A heartwrenching tale of a young man who finds a hope from his horse.
A24 has an extremely competitive slate for the end of 2017, so Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete was pushed into 2018. Don’t let that fool you into questioning the quality of the film because this is another stunner from Haigh that builds upon his two previous films, Weekend and 45 Years. First glance suggests Lean on Pete to be in the same vein as The Black Stallion or any other boy and his horse film. When it comes to Haigh though nothing is quite as simple as it seems.
Charlie Plummer plays a young man without much support in his life. His mother left him and his father when he was younger and they really don’t live an extravagant life, to say the least. Things begin to change for the better for the young man when he comes into contact with an aging racing horse named Lean on Pete. When the horse’s owner (Steve Buscemi) declares that he is going to sell the horse, the young man takes it upon himself to free the horse and journey across the wilderness to find a new home.
On paper, Lean on Pete could be looked at as a feel-good movie, but the reality isn’t so simple. After the viewing the film at TIFF, it was decidedly different than I imagined but focuses on deeply human relationships that Haigh loves to draw attention towards. It is exciting to see a British director attempt a film that is so deeply intertwined with American traditions and he really makes it his own. The official synopsis follows:
Without the slightest whiff of personification or anthropomorphism, a bond develops between Charley and Lean on Pete, unlike the usual cinematic connection between boy and animal. The horse does not exist to teach Charley some lesson about himself or life. He’s an extension of Charley himself, an object onto which he can project some of the greatest aspirations he holds for an uncertain future. When he’s with Lean on Pete, Plummer’s smile is radiant enough to power all the stadium lights at the racetrack, which makes the slow disappearance of that grin even more devastating.
Lean on Pete opens on March 30th, 2018 and will be released by A24.