When you look back at your life during your sunset the things that will bring you the biggest smile are the things you loved and cherished. While in the present you may think you have a long list of those items, but do you really? With me and the point I am in my life I have started to realize that those things are few and far between, so when you do find it you should try and hold on to it as long as you can. I was reminded of this as I walked out of Andrew Haigh’s new film “Lean on Pete”, a film that might also make you think about such things.
Charley’s (Charlie Plummer) life is not in the best of circumstances. His mother left him when he was younger, his father while he loves Charley , lives his life like he doesn’t have to care for him. Together he and his father are barely making it, so when Charley comes across a horse race track, this curiously leads him inside where he meets Del (Steve Buscemi), who lets Charley help him. With his father living his own life it is easy for Charley to disappear and discover something he really enjoys, which is being around Del’s horses. Working with Del also serves as an awakening to the world for Charley who moves through life in a very naive way. That innocence starts to disappear when the horse he has become attached too is no longer useful to Del. It is at the moment the horse named Pete is about to be sold that Charley makes a decision to save the horse and search for the aunt he hasn’t seen in years.
Movies like “Lean on Pete” have a lasting effect on you. The reason being is because of the human factor, we don’t all have horses, but we all have at one time or anther become emotionally attached to an animal, and that is something very strong in this story. Written by Haigh from the novel by Willy Vlautin, together they deliver a story that will bring the emotions bubbling up from within. Most of what you feel is delivered by Plummer, who is almost perfect as Charley. While the film does move at a very deliberate pace it’s getting to that ending that is worth it as you keep waiting for things to go Charley’s way. The film never lets up on its journey down the rabbit hole of its choice and just when you think there is a light things happen to remind you of the kind of story you are in. “Lean on Pete” ultimately never becomes a film you would say you love, but more of one you respect and appreciate. You feel that way not just because it is a good film, because it is very much so, you do because of how it makes you see the world from a perspective while not common it is certainly familiar and is can show you what’s important about life and our choices.