Lean on Pete

April 22, 2018 at 6:44 pm | Posted in 2018 | Leave a comment

◊ ◊ ◊ ½

Don’t let the previews fool you; this is not a feel good movie about a boy rescuing a horse, with a triumphant, inspirational ending. If you want “Seabiscuit” or “The Black Stallion,” look elsewhere. This is a far more nuanced story about loss, love, resiliency, and growing up. Charley is a 16 year old whose mother ran away when he was young and his father is barely making ends meet. He is living on the razor’s edge between dirt poor poverty and being absolutely destitute. He takes a job, falls in love with a horse named “Lean on Pete,” and runs away with him. Most of the film happens as they make their way across the country, trying to rely on strangers to get by. What makes this film work is the strength of all the characters along the journey. The film is based on the novel by Willie Vlautin and was adapted for the screen and directed by Andrew Haigh. Haigh’s other two full-length films are the brilliant “45 Years” and “Weekend;” both of which I absolutely loved. He is a master at creating natural sounding dialogue and getting very real performances from his actors. Charley is played by Charlie Plummer, who got his start on “Boardwalk Empire” and was recently seen in “All the Money in the World.” He is a solid young actor who gave a sweet, moving performance. While Charley is the entire focus of the film and is in every single scene, a great cast of characters come in and out of the story, including ones played by Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, and Steve Zahn. All of these characters seem entirely believable. Charley faces real struggles, as he finds he has to live by his own wits. But, along the way, Charley (and the audience) discovers how strong he really is. The ending is not showy or spectacular. It is much more like real life. Some things work out the way you intended, and some don’t. But, if you can be resilient, something, some how, will work out in the end.

 

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