Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years) directs Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, and newcomer Charlie Plummer in this story about a 15-year-old who hooks up with a pair of itinerant horse trainers and develops a powerful bond with a racehorse on its last legs.
Charley’s (Plummer) mom walked out when he was young. And his dad’s not a bad guy (Travis Fimmel) but he’s no role model either, getting drunk after work and using what remains of his homecoming-king charm to bring home local women. It’s perhaps his search for real connection that draws Charley to the Portland Downs, a racetrack a few blocks from his home. There, he meets a trainer named Del (Buscemi) who offers him spending money to help manage a half dozen horses. Charley’s never ridden a horse in his life, but he finds something like friendship in Del and his jockey, Bonnie (Sevigny), and he grows attached to a racehorse named Lean on Pete. When he discovers that his beloved horse is due to be disposed of by the unsentimental and practical Del, Charley steals the horse and takes off on a cross-country journey. As the boy comes to grips with the realities of being alone with no one to take care of him, with the faithful Pete as his only companion, Haigh’s film focuses beautifully on the teen’s helplessness. A searching, unsentimental drama, Lean on Pete mines the rich and profoundly human regrets that linger between Charley and the people who let him slip through the cracks.
(UK / 2017 / Directed by Andrew Haigh)
R / 2 hrs 1 min.