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Past Films

Lean on Pete

  • Starring: Charlie Plummer, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Travis Fimmel
  • Director: Andrew Haigh
  • Genre(s): Adventure, Drama
  • Rating: R
  • Running Time: 121 min.

Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson (Charlie Plummer) arrives in Portland, Oregon with his single father Ray (Travis Fimmel), both of them eager for a fresh start after a series of hard knocks. While Ray descends into personal turmoil, Charley finds acceptance and camaraderie at a local racetrack where he lands a job caring for an aging Quarter Horse named Lean On Pete. The horse’s gruff owner Del Montgomery (Steve Buscemi) and his seasoned jockey Bonnie (Chloë Sevigny) help Charley fill the void of his father’s absence—until he discovers that Pete is bound for slaughter, prompting him to take extreme measures to spare his new friend’s life. Charley and Pete head out into the great unknown, embarking on an odyssey across the new American frontier in search of a loving aunt Charley hasn’t seen in years. They experience adventure and heartbreak in equal measure, but never lose their irrepressible hope and resiliency as they pursue their dream of finding a place they can call home.

"Lean on Pete is a small gem that covers a vast amount of territory."
- David Ehrlich, indieWire
"Again and again, I marveled at the humanist depth of the world Haigh creates, one that can only be rendered by a truly great writer and director, working near the top of his game. "
- Brian Tallerico,
"As the film takes deeper and darker turns, it also becomes something special, something unflinchingly honest, something that will punch you in the gut AND touch your heart. "
- Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
"A horse might not be able to feel love for a teenage boy, but Lean on Pete makes sure you know how deeply a teenage boy can feel love for a horse. It’s one of the best films of the year. "
- Todd VanDerWerff, Vox
"Writer-director Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years) dashes expectations in almost every scene. Working from a novel by Willy Vlautin, Haigh has committed himself to making a boy-and-his-horse movie that’s scraped free of everything false or sentimental about the genre. "
- Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
"This is a compassionately observed story told with unimpeachable naturalism and without a grain of sentimentality, propelled by a remarkable performance from Charlie Plummer that's both internalized and emotionally raw. "
- David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
"Just about every scene in Lean On Pete, the sensitive, unvarnished, at times powerfully sad new drama from writer-director Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years), reveals something small but important about the hardscrabble lives it chronicles. "
- A.A. Dowd, AV Club
"There’s almost a cosmic dimension to some of the most beautiful passages, as if the world (call it nature or God or sensitive direction) were holding Charley in its embrace. "
- Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
"The words in his new film are pungent in themselves, but they're given greater power by Mr. Plummer's remarkable performance."
- Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
"This is not a movie about a boy and his horse. It is something far more grueling and merciless, and as the film reveals itself in an increasingly jaw-dropping series of vignettes, it's likely to leave you in tatters."
- Jeffrey Bloomer, Slate
"In the hands of British filmmaker Andrew Haigh, this tale of a troubled teen (an extraordinary Charlie Plummer) bonding with a horse becomes a heartbreaking look at a marginalized America."
- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"The maker of such intimate dramas as Weekend and 45 Years brings his gifts as a filmmaker with him to the great outdoors, always capturing little moments of character and emotion even in an expanse of seemingly infinite American desert."
- Alonso Duralde, TheWrap
"There is painfully little love, except for the warm and compassionate filmmaking itself, in Andrew Haigh's tender and heartbreaking coming-of-age drama Lean on Pete."
- Jake Coyle, Associated Press