Review #Venezia74: Lean On Pete

Based on the novel Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin and directed by Andrew Haigh, Lean on Pete is the story of a young boy in Portland, Oregon, and his journey to Wyoming.

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The film begins slowly, the situation isn’t very clear: you can see a boy, Charley (Charlie Plummer) putting his shoes on and going out for a run. He lives in a small house with his father, Ray (Travis Fimmel), and his economic condition is evident: they are poor.

With the purpose to help, Charley finds a job as a horse carer under the supervision of Del (Steve Buscemi). He becomes attached to Lean on Pete, a Quarter Back racing horse. After a losing race, Del want to sell Pete to the Mexicans, where horses that can’t race anymore are butchered. Charley decides to take Pete away and go to Wyoming, where his aunt lived.

During this journey, Charley goes through many things, most of them terrible and overwhelming for just a 16-year-old boy. When he finally reaches his aunt, everything seems to go for the best.

Lean on Pete is the story and journey of a boy through his life and fears, trying to not loose his kindness. It could be considered a Bildungsroman, where the main character reaches maturity – even though he is still very young – and learns how to cope with problems and a hard reality, like the one of a homeless person. Charlie Plummer, who plays the role of Charley, is a great actor and, although he is new to this, he has managed to make a great impression on spectators.

The film is two hours long and most of it is Charley speaking to Pete or trying to survive, so it would have been difficult to watch it to the end if the actor wasn’t good enough. Fortunately, it wasn’t a problem staying in front of the screen and watch this boy run through deserts, sometimes without talking and in total darkness.

It’s not a film only for horse-lovers, but it’s more an introspective journey inside the boy’s head and through his life. It shows how it’s like to be an adolescent and alone in the world, keeping the camera at an arm-length’s distance, that makes the spectator uncomfortable and too far from the character to feel his emotions.

Photos by Alessio Costantino

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