SXSW 2018 Review: LEAN ON PETE

By Jan Hamilton

This is a tough film that never resorts to sentiment.  Most of the characters are not nice.  Some are inept, dishonest users.  15 year-old Charlie (Charlie Plummer), our lead, is being raised by his easy-going dad Ray (Travis Fimmel), a man who spends most of his time chasing women.  Basically, Charlie must raise himself.  Ray loves Charlie, but his parenting method is benign neglect.  Charlie finds a job at a race track nearby–not a first class affair, but more like fourth class. 

He begins taking care of a quarter horse named “Lean on Pete” for Del (Steve Buscemi) and immediately becomes attached.  Del’s girlfriend Bonnie (Chloë Sevigny) and others warn him that these horses aren’t pets, but it’s already too late.  When it becomes clear that the horse is heading for a bad end, Charlie steals the horse, a truck and horse trailer, and runs away.  His journey to find a place for himself and the horse make for a very moving and wonderful film.  Stronger and more focused than most of the adults in his life, Charlie is a protagonists audiences will want to succeed.  Excellent performances from all, including Steve Zahn, and restrained direction from Andrew Haigh make for a great film.

Film Credits:

Director:  Andrew Haigh

Executive Producer:  Darren Demetre

Producer:  Tristan Goligher

Screenwriter: Andrew Haigh

Cinematographer: Magnus Joenck

Editor: Jonathan Alberts

Production Designer: Ryan Warren Smith

Sound Designer: Christian Dolan

Principal Cast: Charlie Plummer, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi,

Travis Fimmel, Justin Rain, Lewis Pullman, Steve Zahn, Alison Elliott

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