The film follows fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson. He wants a home, food on the table and a high school he can attend for more than part of the year. As the son of a single father working in warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, stability is hard to find. Hoping for a new start they move to Portland, Oregon where Charley takes a summer job, with a washed-up horse trainer, and befriends a failing racehorse named Lean on Pete.
The 2010 novel followed Vlautin's previous works, The Motel Life and North line. Lean on Pete drew praise from critics in the U.S. and abroad, including a rave from Vlautin's fellow Oregon author, Cheryl Strayed, whose bestselling memoir, Wild, was also turned into a movie that filmed in Oregon. See more »
Modern flat screen televisions are shown in at least 2 scenes, yet the film seems to be set in the 1990s, with old cell phones, pay phone, information operators, and older vehicles. See more »
"Lean On Pete" (2017 release from the UK; 121 min.) brings the story of Charley. As the movie opens, 16 yr. old Charley, who lives with his dad in Portland, Oregon, is doing his morning jog, passing Portland Downs. Although Charley doesn't have any prior experience, he is drawn to the wold of horses. By happenstance, Charley gets an opportunity to assist Del, a veteran in the horse racing business. One of the horses Del has is called Lean On Pete. Then one evening, Charley's dad is wounded critically in a fight (we're not sure what the fight is actually about), At this point we are 10 min. into the movie but to tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out,
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from British writer-director Andrew Haigh, whose previous film was the equally excellent "45 Years". Here, he brings the novel of the same name by Willy Vlautin to the big screen. I have not read the book, so I cannot comment to what extent (if any) the movie diverges plot-wise from the original book. As for the movie itself, I need to be quite careful as this is a plot-heavy movie. All I will say is that if you think the movie is mostly about the bond that grows between Charley and the horse, you are quite wrong. Rapidly up-and-coming Charlie Plummer (he played the kidnapped Getty in the recent "All The Money In the World") carries the movie on his young shoulders (he is in virtually every frame of the movie). Steve Buscemi is solid as Del, and Chloe Sevigny has a small role as Del's unsentimental jockey Bonnie.("they're not pets, Charley, they're just race horses"). The movie's wide open photography is eye-candy from start to finish. But in the end, this is all about Charley's story, and simple at that level, "Lean On Pete" is bound to break your heart, as you ache for Charley in his quest for a better future.
"Lean On Pete" premiered at last Fall's Venice Film Festival to immediate critical acclaim (with Plummer winning "Best Young Actor"), and it recently opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at was not attended well (5 people, including myself), although I'm guessing the 75 degree weather had something to do with that. Or it may be that hopefully this movie will find a wider audience on other platforms beyond the movie theater. Regardless, if you are in the mood for an excellent character study of a young man in search of a better life, I'd readily recommend you seek this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
20 of 29 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this