Lean on Pete

I went into this thinking it’d be a sweet, moving film about a boy and his horse… this isn’t that film.

Charley is played by Charlie Plummer, he lives with his Dad and life is pretty bleak.  He gets a job at a racecourse, meets some interesting people and then meets and forms a bond with Lean on Pete the racehorse.  Chloe Sevigny and Steve Buscemi as Bonnie and Del are the two main characters he meets at the racecourse, both actors are indy movie staples and rightfully so as they command the screen in their every scene.

Both Charley and Pete are characters that you want the best for. They are both vulnerable, innocent and victims of circumstances not of their making. It becomes clear early on that Pete is no longer in his prime and with an uncertain future for them both, Charley has to make a decision.

This is a movie of vignettes as Charley encounters a variety of people and situations who appear into his life then fairly soon after disappear.  Some you are relieved when they go and some you wish would hang around. It really is Charlie Plummer’s movie and he carries Charley’s life as it tangibly weighs heavily upon his too young shoulders.

With many powerful moments in this movie, there’s one that comes as a complete shock and is real punch in the stomach for the viewer, I think I actually exclaimed ‘Oh f***!’.  I hope just saying that isn’t a spoiler, though I’m not saying where in the movie and anything about what happens more than the movie shifts completely as a result.

This isn’t a movie with a very wordy script and there’s little in the way of incidental music, but every frame is beautifully composed.  It’s to the skill of Andrew Haigh and Charlie Plummer and the choices they make in telling this story that makes this film such a compelling watch.

I don’t want to give the impression that this film is relentlessly bleak, because it isn’t, but it’s certainly no ‘Mamma Mia’.

And again, I have to express my continuing admiration for Andrew Haigh, he excels in the kind of thoughtful, character-driven pieces that cinema requires and that leave you feeling fulfilled and enriched.

StoryScreenplay by Andrew Haigh, based on the novel by Willy Vlautin
CastCharlie Plummer, as Charley Thompson
Steve Buscemi, as Del Montgomery
Travis Fimmel, as Ray Thompson
Chloe Sevigny, as Bonnie
DirectorAndrew Haigh
Running Time121 mins

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Welsh librarian, working in London and living in Brighton.

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