“Lean on Pete”: Not Just a Boy and His Horse

Not everyone likes a movie that sneaks up on them, so be advised that Lean on Pete is the ugly-cry event of the spring. But it more than earns its emotional ravages. Jeffrey Bloomer, Slate

Just a-boy-and-his-horse story? Excerpts from reviews of Lean on Pete suggest it’s much more than that and possibly not what you’d expect from seeing the trailer:

Selected Reviews of Lean on Pete

Manohla Dargis, New York Times: “Disaster violently upends and gives shape to the loose, episodic story when an angry stranger breaks down Ray and Charley’s front door, sending the father to the hospital and the son reeling. With no one else he can call, Charley runs off to look for a missing aunt, stealing both Del’s truck and Pete. They share starry nights — Charley talks to Pete as if confiding in a friend — but their difficult road soon turns treacherous. There are ominous men, kind women, persistent hunger, a desert trek, a breakdown and a grisly accident. Before long, this tough-minded if generous-hearted movie becomes nearly unbearable as its overarching ethic of honesty edges too close to sadism.”

Brian Tallerico, rogerebert.com: “It sounds clichéd, but you really don’t see a lot of movies like ‘Lean on Pete’ in a calendar year…I worry that it’s a tough sell for people who are going to consider it either a movie for young audiences or a manipulative melodrama.”

Mark Kermode, The Guardian: “A performance of remarkable depth, candour and vulnerability by rising star Charlie Plummer lies at the heart of this terrifically moving fourth feature film from British writer-director Andrew Haigh.”

David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter: “…(H)is childhood memory of an estranged aunt [is] the closest thing to a loving maternal figure he has ever known. But even more central to the story is Charley’s bond with the aging quarter horse whose name gives the film its title, a gentle nag that Charley is determined to save from the slaughterhouse once it has been run into the ground by its shady owner [Del, played by Steve Buscemi].”

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: “Certainly the boy has been treated like a horse for most of his life, led around by the nose from one place to the next. Charley’s mother abandoned him when he was a child, and his good-timey father, Ray (Travis Fimmel), drags Charley from town to town as he searches for unskilled work…”

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