By William Curzon (United Kingdom)
Lean on Pete follows fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson (Charlie Plummer). A teenager who gets a summer job working for a horse trainer and befriends the fading racehorse, Lean on Pete.
Firstly Andrew Haigh’s script is phenomenal. Very well adapted from Willy Vlautin’s novel of the same name. The characters are written with so much detail that I cared so much for them, and after it ended I wanted to see where these characters went. This is due to the fantastic script and all the performances given from the actors especially Charlie Plummer’s central performance. Also the landscapes in the film were absolutely breathtaking to look at, one of the things they have managed to do with the framing of this film is to always put the central character of Charley right there in the middle. Some of the landscapes were deserts and some of them were urban. There is so much attention to detail put into each scene, it just shows how talented of a filmmaker Andrew Haigh really is.
Charlie Plummer is excellent. Although he hasn’t been in much before, this is by far his best performance to date. I really became attached to his character instantly, it’s just the innocence he portrays on screen and the horrible situation he is put through. He doesn’t even have to open his mouth and I could almost tell what he was feeling just from his facial expressions. This is also a big positive for the entire film because you are following his character all the time so you want to be able to connect with him, and I certainly did which again is due to his fantastic performance. Andrew Haigh stated that he gives his actors a lot of space, so it’s no surprise how good Charlie Plummer really is in this film.
The supporting cast in this film were brilliant. Travis Fimmel portrays Charley’s father Ray. He is not a perfect father by all means but you can tell that he really loves his son and wants what’s best for him. Steve Buscemi portrays Del who is a washed up horse trainer who Charley begins to work for. He is a chancer and has a rough personality but he also shows care for Charley sometimes. On the other side you have the Chloe Sevigny character Bonnie a current horse racer who is a jockey that has had too many accidents. You suspect her character to be dislikeable because her type of character in a different narrative certainly would be, but she isn’t because that’s not who her character in this narrative really is.
Lean on Pete is an outstanding piece of modern cinema, the performances were all great especially the central lead performance. The landscapes of the film were magnificent. Although the film contains many dark themes it’s also very moving and is full of hope. I loved how all the characters were dealt with even-handedly. Andrew Haigh has literally outdone himself as a director in which I believe is his best film to date.