Lean on Pete is the beautifully told story of a boy, a horse and living onto dreams that can never come true. Director Andrew Haigh doesn’t elevate the story with sappy sentiments and phony triumphs. Instead he delivers an elegiac rendering of the death of childhood told through a youth (Charlie Plummer) who doesn’t see that the broken down quarter horse of life only offers heartache, struggle and occasional hollow triumphs.
This is the other side of the track of existence filled with loneliness, despair, no account fathers, alcoholism, abuse, bad debts brutally paid off and occasional compassion. “There are only so many times you can fall off a horse and get up”, notes a female jockey almost mother figure who sagely solace’s the young Charley.
Lean on Pete is the played out story of what happens to Charley when he goes against the advice of making both the horse and his hopes a pet. The best that can happen is you avoid the slaughterhouse.
Grace notes filtered through the harsh perspective of adult regrets give Lean on Pete its rueful humanity. There is so much of them in him and so much of their past bad cycles coming true.
It all gets to the heart of what great movies are all about.