Entertainment » Movies

Lean On Pete

by Frank J. Avella
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jul 10, 2018
Lean On Pete

Andrew Haigh's "Lean on Pete," is just as powerful on Blu-ray as it was on the big screen, if not more so, since a claustrophobic sit enhances the film's focus allowing the central character's odyssey to overwhelm the viewer and accentuate the ethical and moral values of a country on the edge. The America in "Lean on Pete" could never be made great again, because it was never all that great to begin with.

Based on the novel by Willy Vlautin, "Lean on Pete" fixates on Charley (Charlie Plummer), a lonely 15-year-old living with his messed up dad (an excellent Travis Fimmel) in Portland, Oregon. Charley stumbles onto a job looking after an aging Quarter Horse named Lean on Pete, owned by a no-bullshit racer named Del (Steve Buscemi, nailing irascible). A terrible tragedy leaves Charley on his own to travel the race circuit with Del and his jockey (a charming Chloe Sevigny). When he realizes Del is about to sell the horse for slaughter, Charlie runs off with him.

Haigh's focus is always on his protagonist (one of the film's many boons) as we journey with Charley through the underbelly (which has really become the fat belly) of America as he meets a host of people just trying to make it through to the next day.

The film rests on the shoulders of Charlie Plummer, a remarkable young talent who allows just enough access to the boy's inner struggles and for us to empathize with him. Charley is forced to grow up fast and make some harsh decisions. Plummer keeps it real at all times.

I was also impressed that Haigh never forces a sexuality on Charley. There's no obligatory girlfriend plot or hookup moment. Charley is a bit too busy trying to survive to deal with typical teen stuff.

The Blu-ray perfectly showcases the film's gritty and often unwelcoming look. The failure of the American dream resonates hard in Magnus Nordenhof Jønck's stunning cinematography. The audio is crisp and clean.

Lionsgate Home Entertainment offers a few trailers and only one Special Feature: a 27-minute making-of doc, "Searching for Home," which boasts some decent interviews with the filmmaker and principle cast.

There's a blend of the bleak and the hopeful in "Lean on Pete." The film had me thinking about all the Charley's out there who don't ever make it to age 16.

"Lean on Pete"
Blu-ray & Digital HD
$17.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CXGS7BM

Frank J. Avella is a film and theatre journalist and is thrilled to be writing for Edge. His film column can be read at newyorkcool.com. Frank is also a proud Dramatists Guild member having written a slew of plays including "Consent," which confronts bullying and homophobia and was a 2012 semifinalist for the 2012 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, "Vatican Falls," a play set against the backdrop of the Catholic sex abuse scandal which received Special Mention at the 2013 O'Neill (and will be produced next season) and his latest, "Orville Station." Ten of his plays have been produced (seven in NYC). Frank is the recipient of a 2015 Fellowship Award from the NJ State Council on the Arts for his play, CONSENT.


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