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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: "Lean on Pete" a beautiful, emotional journey

Apr 19, 2018 04:39PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Charlie Plummer in Lean on Pete - © 2018 A24 Films.

Lean on Pete (A24 Films)

Rated R for language and brief violence.

Starring Charlie Plummer, Travis Fimmel, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Steve Zahn, Alison Elliott, Amy Seimetz, Justin Rain, Lewis Pullman, Frank Gallegos, Julia Prud'homme.

Written by Andrew Haigh, based on the novel by Willy Vlautin

Directed by Andrew Haigh.



More than most animals, horses share a unique connection with humans. Yes, you love your dogs and cats and they love you back unconditionally, but horses are a little different. When trained properly and with the right amount of love and care, horses and their human riders share a matchless bond; a team with a symbiotic dependence. One such bond is beautifully illustrated in Lean on Pete, a new film starring Charlie Plummer and directed by Andrew Haigh.

Plummer plays Charlie, a 15-year-old living with his ruffian single dad (Travis Fimmel) on the outskirts of Portland. After Charlie gets a job helping Del (Steve Buscemi) care for his racehorses at a nearby racetrack, his dad is killed by the jealous husband of his most recent one-night stand, leaving the young man orphaned. One of the horses under Charlie’s care is Lean on Pete, an aging animal on its last legs. When Del informs Charlie of his intent to sell Pete to a Mexican slaughterhouse, the boy steals the horse and sets out to Wyoming where he hopes to find his long, lost aunt Margy (Alison Elliott) and live out Pete’s last days. The companions share a similar circumstance; they are both society’s castoffs, wandering alone in hopes of finding a peaceful home to call their own.  Charlie and Pete encounter all sorts of obstacles and get some help on their journey, as the bond between boy and horse grows.

Lean on Pete is an emotional, moving tale told with loving care over the backdrop of the beautiful, yet harsh, modern wilderness of the American West (Magnus Joenck get extra credit for incredible cinematography). It’s a voyage that is altogether poignant in its simplicity - and is much deeper than any typical “boy and his pet” melodrama. Charlie Plummer is outstanding in the leading role, playing off several talented and established film veterans like Buscemi, along with Chloë Sevigny, Steve Zahn, and Amy Seimetz, who make cameo appearances in the film.  

An emotional ending awaits Charlie at the end of his journey, and even though it’s hard to watch a young man struggle with the hand he’s been dealt, it’s a journey worth taking.

Lean on Pete is definitely on my early list of best films for 2018.


Lean on Pete Trailer