"Juliet Stevenson brings a fierce performance here"
All families have their secrets. Mistakes that have been learnt from and left in the past alongside things that needn’t be mentioned again to grandchildren whose thoughts are sure to be crushed. For 62 year old Helga, it has come a time when one big secret she has been harboring is sure to well and truly surface. After receiving a letter that her estranged mother isn’t doing so well, this forces her to tell her daughter, Beth and granddaughter Emily that they have one more family member they never knew about.
Documentary filmmaker Polly Steele takes on this based on a true story of a Helga Schneider’s dysfunctional family dynamic of 4 generations of women. Dealing with estranged family members is never easy, and when we find out why Helga kept this a secret, we can completely understand why. Being told you are the descendant of an SS Nazi nurse during WWII, who abandoned her children to go experiment and gas Jews truly believing that Hitler’s way was the right way is one hell of a shock for Beth and Emily. After years of refusing to acknowledge her mother’s existence, Helga now has to face her in her birthplace Vienna – but not without her granddaughter tagging along. This then becomes a spiral of sheer emotions for all involved including the spectator.
Juliet Stevenson brings a fierce performance as the bitter Helga. With on point accent twinges of German and pure energy this actress becomes a powerhouse of protection (with only a few moments of weakness), not only for her family but most importantly herself. Being left as a young girl because her mother wanted to be one of Hitler’s minions instead of bringing up her children continuously haunts her and quite rightly so. Physically hearing the words come out of her mother’s mouth is simply heartbreaking. The supporting cast here, including Outlanders Stanley Weber and Netflix Gypsy’s Lucy Boyton are given the chance to take on something new with on screen chemistry and feelings running at an all-time high.
Albeit, such subplots and at times dialogue doesn’t seem to gel with the overall message here. When this story reaches its climax it is easy to become lost in the other background information that has previously been given. Jodhi May as daughter Beth is severely underused here resulting in her explosion of on screen emotion to be unsurprising; simply because we haven’t had enough time to know what makes her tick. Boyton as Emily, is disappointingly stereotyped as a classic blonde haired woman; but on the contrary acts like a teenager having a tantrum for the entire duration of the film but is clearly old enough not to storm off in such an infantile manner every two minutes. As a result, this ever so powerful underlying subject is diluted into a frenzy of back and forth echoes of reactions that main protagonist has kept cooped up inside.
Let Me Go brings an emotional tale to our screens, albeit something seems to be missing. A thought provoking and moving feature for the majority of its running time – just be aware for repetition and seat shuffling to occur.