Lean on Pete is the latest film from director Andrew Haigh and is adapted by Haigh from Willy Vlautin’s novel of the same name. The film stars Charlie Plummer who was last seen losing an ear in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World. The film tells the story of Charley Thompson, a boy who takes a summer job working for a racehorse trainer and forms a strong friendship with an old racehorse, Lean on Pete.
The film appears to be a classic coming-of-age story which manages to confound expectations and makes it a truly fulfilling experience. The various characters who appear in Charley’s story are complex and have degrees of light and shade which expertly puts the audience in his shoes, searching for someone to connect with. His attempts to form relationships are vividly drawn and the excellent dialogue is realistic and detailed.
The acting is also brilliant with Plummer’s co-stars Steve Buscemi (as a racehorse trainer), Chloe Sevigny (as a Jockey), Travis Fimmel (as Charley’s father) and Steve Zahn (as a homeless man) all giving memorable performances as the adults in Charley’s life. All have moments of light and dark and the seasoned performers disappear into their roles. Plummer is superb in the central role, spending almost the entirety of the film onscreen. He perfectly portrays his arc with incredible subtly which is rarely seen in an actor of a relatively young age. He commands the screen and is certainly one to watch in the future.
The film is brilliantly paced with a naturalistically steady pace which never becomes boring or slow. The immersive realism puts this film alongside classic films like The 400 Blows, however its look at modern America means it is more comparable to Paris, Texas, but especially American Honey, a film about the hardships of growing up poor in modern America. However, Lean on Pete separates itself from those films with an almost Dickensian story and lots of gorgeous cinematography.
Overall, Lean on Pete is an excellent film that deserves to be watched on the big screen. It’s a moving, heartfelt story full of brilliant performances and writing. If you want an antidote to the big screen bombast of Avengers: Infinity War, then check this film out.