Show Me How To Lean (Film Thoughts: Lean On Pete)

LOPfinalInitially, I thought ‘Lean On Pete’ was just going to be one those ‘a boy and his horse’ kind of movies so I thought, ‘Pass.’  But then I saw that it was directed by Andrew Haigh, who directed two really great movies, ‘Weekend,’ and ’45 Years,’ and suddenly I knew I wanted to see this movie. There are artists whose work I want to follow, and Haigh definitely falls into that category.

And I wasn’t disappointed. ‘Lean On Pete’ is a hard movie to watch at times, but there is payoff. It is based on the best-selling book of the same title, and of course I had never heard of the book either – I am so out of touch nowadays. And it is about a boy and his horse, but is much bigger that that. Charlie Plummer plays Charley, a fifteen year old who is living with his father. His mother left, and he only has vague clues about her whereabouts, and they are poor, a paycheck away from starvation. When Charley finds work helping out a race horse owner, a series of events forces him to face life-changing choices.

At times, the film becomes suffering porn. Surely, I had to view some scenes with my palms covering my face, asking myself, how much more can this character take? Plummer is great, displaying a wide-eyed innocence and touching vulnerability that would make you want to grab him and steer him clear from danger. Plummer was also the kidnapped son in ‘All The Money In The World’ and I am amazed how great he was there – an actor effective in two roles so different from each other (Acting, my dear, acting)  Between him and Timothee Chalamet, I think we have a great group of young actors who can grown up to be real fine craftsmen.

I have to say Charley’s character stayed with me. Here I am now, wondering if he is still safe, still on protect mode. I don’t know if I have the heart to ever watch this film again, but it definitely made an impact with me.

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