Lean on Pete: Film Review

Lean on Pete was a movie I missed at the London Film Festival, and it was only afterwards that I realised I missed out on something special. I made it a priority to check it out ahead of its release, and I’m glad I did because it is so good.

Charlie Plummer stars as Charlie, a teenager who has recently relocated cities with his single father Ray (Travis Fimmel). Money is tight, they barely have any food, and Ray seems to prioritise random women over his son. Charlie is struggling, but he soon finds his calling when he picks up work at the local racecourse, working for Del (Steve Buscemi), who pays him to look after Lean on Pete, an ailing racehorse. When Lean on Pete loses a race and Del reveals he’s going to be sold, Charlie takes off with the horse and they go on a cross-country adventure to find his aunt in Wyoming.

Lean on Pete is quite a long movie but so much happens to Charlie. Too much, poor boy. You can’t help but feel sorry for him and hope everything will be OK. He doesn’t always help himself, but he’s a sweet boy dealt with a crap hand in life and he deserves so much better. My heart leaped for him on several occasions and I was fully invested in his story. It really tugs on the heartstrings and I think that’s down to the stellar writing, impressive direction by Andrew Haigh and top performance from Plummer, who I have only seen once before in All the Money in the World.

Buscemi provides excellent support as the miserable, fed-up Del who provides a father figure Charlie so desperately needs and Chloe Sevigny has a small role as a jockey who tries to persuade Charlie not to get attached to the horse.

The film is very serious, sad, and dramatic (with the occasional funny moment), but I was captivated by the whole thing. I really cared about Charlie and his journey, even though it was a touch slow and perhaps slightly too long.

Lean on Pete is a moving piece of drama that I connected with deeply on an emotional level. Plummer is certainly one to watch.

In cinemas Friday 4th May 

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