Let Him Have It (1991)
Reviewed on 2008 February 26
This film is so riveting that at times it doesn’t feel like a movie, which makes it more wrenching (more on that later). Christopher Eccleston was so immersed in portraying Derek Bentley that took me a moment to place him. (In fact, at that time I think turned to Mr. Shukti and said “look, honey, it’s that horrible accountant from Shallow Grave!”) Some time later I was finally able to watch the entire movie and I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach.
Let Him Have It is based on Bentley’s notorious “trial”, and we realize from our first vision of Bentley as a young boy that he doesn’t have much of a shot at a normal life. He was mentally impaired and suffered from epilepsy all his life. His family dotes on him but he wants friends, and in his quest for acceptance he ultimately gravitates to a group of thugs. One of them, Chris Craig (Paul Reynolds), takes Derek under his wing and gives him gifts of swag and we cringe, knowing things are going to get worse. Things do rapidly one night when Derek and Chris try breaking into a shop.
The acting from the entire cast is so good that it makes film even more painful to watch, but Eccleston and Reynolds own it. Director Peter Medak gets a lot of mileage from his crew and from the grim atmosphere. That school Craig attended was unbelievable (and I’m from Chicago).
Three chocolate morsels, and a cup of herbal tea to make you feel better after you watch it. It’s very well done but it is heartbreaking.