A Review of "Lean on Pete” by Nathan H. Box
Director: Andrew Haigh, Writers: Andrew Haigh, Willy Vlautin, Starring: Travis Fimmel, Steven Zahn, Charlie Plummer
Rating: 4 STARS, SHOWTIME
A teenager gets a summer job working for a horse trainer and befriends the fading racehorse, Lean on Pete.
When seeing a movie for the very first time, you should ideally enter the theater with a clear mind and the expectation that any film has potential to be good. Ideally! This is often far from reality. The truth is that we bring the weight of all the art we’ve ever consumed, our own experiences, and the little bit of information we could pull from a two-minute trailer. From there, our love, hatred, or lukewarm feeling toward a film grows.
I entered the theater to see “Lean on Pete” with almost no expectations. It was my intention to enjoy the ride and keep an open mind. I am so very glad I took this route because by the time the final credits rolled I left thinking this might be the most surprising film of the year.
Lean on Pete is an aging racehorse whose better days are behind him. As the film presses forward, we learn about the real world of horse racing and the fate awaiting horses who are no longer profitable to their owners. Charlie Plummer plays Charley Thompson, a boy beset with loneliness. He is the son of a single father; the mother having left long ago, and an aunt no longer allowed to be in the picture. Charley gets a summer job working with a horse trainer and instantly forms a bond with Lean on Pete.
Repeatedly, we see evidence that Charley is a good kid in a tough spot. Then a tragedy befalls his small family and he is put to the ultimate test; a search for some semblance of home begins. As his world comes crashing down, he learns of the fate awaiting Pete. As he finds himself leaning on this animal for the support he cannot get anywhere in the world, he makes a daring escape with a plan to find his aunt in Wyoming.
As he presses forward, we learn valuable lessons about asking for help over pride and life in the vast, unforgiving west. We also learn the value of having someone to lean on when times get tough. In the end, maybe the film caught me on the right day. Perhaps I did it justice by entering with no expectations or maybe it was just a wonderful film about the power of relationships. I am inclined to believe the latter. You should judge for yourself which is why I recommend seeing this film.
Be good to each other,
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