“Lean On Pete”–movie review   Leave a comment

What could be more ‘Hollywood’ than a film about a boy and his horse? Well “Lean On Pete” is not Hollywood but a film directed and written by British Andrew Haigh and just about an hour into the film you will jump out of your seat or gasp as loud as you ever have in a theatre.

The film starts off with Charley (Charlie Plummer) running in the morning in Portland, Oregon, where he and his father Ray (Travis Fimmel) have recently moved from Spokane, Washington.

Charley is a 15-year-old boy waiting for school to start so he can play football though it is hard to picture him as a player being thin and almost gangly. He only remembers his mother from a picture and his father is more of an acting high school kid than his son is. Charley remembers his aunt, a maternal figure, who, because of his father, they have become estranged.

The first hour of the movie shows Charley running and seeing a billboard about a racetrack and he goes there one day and meets horse owner Del (Steve Buscemi) who owns some racing horses and gives Charley a job helping out. The racetrack that Del runs a few of his horses are third rate just as his horses are but they are no better or worse than the ones they are running against. It is here where he meets veteran jockey Bonnie (Chloe Sevigny) who advises him that these horses are not pets. He also meets the horse, Lean On Pete, who Del is ready to give up on and sell.

In Lean On Pete Charley finds a friend that he can talk to, tell all he wants from life and what he has had and hasn’t had and when a series of incidences take place both for the boy and the horse the boy decides to save him. He, also, decides to look for his aunt.

Though the first hour of the film is easy going it is also realistic showing people living a real life, being poor, trying to survive and lives ruined by poor choices or not having opportunities to better themselves and accepting their lot in life.

The second hour of the film takes a completely different turn starting from the event that is referred to in the first paragraph. At times it is difficult to watch but never less than realistic just as the interchange between Charley and an abused granddaughter, though brief, is memorable or the one where a waitress becomes his heroine and many other intimate but fleeting moments between him and people will make you smile, feel sad and all emotions that a boy lost in a world he doesn’t know feels.

The remarkable performance by Charlie Plummer gathers a tremendous amount of empathy from the audience as it feels true and you want this boy to be a winner.

There isn’t a false note from anyone in the cast and this picture is probably not the one you expected to see walking in but, by the end, you will be glad you saw it.

Movie trailer



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