Based on the novel by Willy Vlautin, Lean on Pete (2017), tells the story of 15-year-old Charlie (Charlie Plummer). When we first meet Charlie, he is your typical teen; he likes to jog, play football, and watch TV. Charlie lives in a run-down home with his somewhat caring but partially childish father (Travis Fimmel). To help his father, Charlie decides to pick up a job doing odds and ends for Del (Steve Buscemi), a washed-up racing horse handler, who he meets while exploring a rundown house race track in his new hometown. While working for Del, Charlie begins to form a bond with an older horse named Lean On Pete.
After tragedy strikes, Charlie finds himself without a home and sleeping in the horse stables with Lean On Pete. One day, Del decides he is going to sell the past his prime horse that Charlie has become attached too. Before Del can sell Lean on Pete, Charlie decides that he is going to steal Del's truck and Lean On Pete and try to make his way across the mid-west to a long lost aunt he knew when he was younger. What is ahead for Charlie is a beautiful yet heartbreaking adventure across the American West.
Lean on Pete (2017) is a film that covers a broad spectrum of emotions, it will make you laugh, smile, aww, and cry. When I walked into Lean On Pete, I was expecting a simple film about a boy and his horse, but what the film delivers is far greater than that. The film is very much a character piece about Charlie, and his companionship with Lean On Pete is just one part of this incredibly compelling and profound story. As Charlie and Lean On Pete venture out on this journey, they have to take on hardships after hardship. The whole time, I was waiting for Charlie to reach his breaking point because everything that could go wrong does, and I found it fascinating how Charlie dealt with all of these difficulties.
As I had mentioned previously, this is very much a character piece and newcomer Charlie Plummer's remarkable performance, delivers perfectly on every aspect of the demanding role. It has been a long time since a performance has stuck with me as much as Plummer's performance as Charlie has. Throughout Charlie's story, he crosses paths with Del (Steve Buscemi), Bonnie (Chloë Sevigny), and Silver (Steve Zahn) who all delivered beautifully in their supporting roles.
Writer and Director, Andrew Haigh, shot the film to take every advantage of the stunning American West with shot after shot of beautiful landscapes and sunsets which helped to balance out the films tragic story and kept me from diving deep into a depressive state as I watched Charlie struggle at every turn. My only real complaint about the film is that it is slow paced. It is very much a journey film in that it spends a lot of time appreciating the lead characters surroundings which results in some slower areas, but truthfully they didn't affect my enjoyment of the film all that much.
Going into Lean on Pete (2017), you might think you are in for a subdued story about a boy and his horse but what you will receive is a far more powerful film about tragedy and triumph. Newcomer Charlie Plummer delivers one of the most moving performances I have seen in recent memory. I give Lean On Pete a 9 out of 10.
Lean On Pete • In Theaters Now • Runtime 2:01 • Rating R - Language and brief violence