Lean on Pete is an American coming of age story about a boy named Charley (Charlie Plummer). Charley lives at home with his dad and lives a fairly lonely life. He meets a guy named Del (Steve Buscemi) who offers him a job working with horses and getting them ready to race. Charley forms a bond with a horse named Pete, and after the unlikely passing of his father, Charley steals Pete and heads to Wyoming to find his father’s ex-girlfriend.
Lean on Pete is a dramatic coming of age story that stands out mainly due to the performance by Charlie Plummer. The film is a downer but showcases how some unfortunate events can lead a person to change. The character of Charley is forced to work as his dad does very little to contribute but rather spends his time drinking and sleeping around with various women. When Charley finds horses as a hobby, he becomes invested, and you can see his passion for horses come to life. He often turns to Pete whenever something goes wrong and treats Pete as his outlet to share and express his feelings.
The film is stunning to look at and captures several states in all their glory. The intimate moments when Charley is talking to Pete are filled with emotion and are some of the best scenes in the film. It is like his bond with Pete is like a boy with his dog. These moments are captured so perfectly.
Lean on Pete‘s runtime could use a bit of a trim. While the story held my interest, I felt like the pacing was just off at times. Certain scenes felt like they went on far too long and Charley’s journey to Wyoming took a long time. The film also suffers a bit from being somewhat unexpecting to being fairly predictable. About midway through, you know exactly what’s going to happen. Now granted, the way certain things play out is surprising even if you do see them coming but there is no denying that the ending feels incredibly anticlimactic.
Truth be told, if Lean on Pete was an 80 to 90-minute film, I think it would have been one of the year’s best, but as is, the film overstays its welcome. Lean on Pete does have great performances, an emotional story, and a few standout moments, therefore, making it worth watching. I just wish there was more that happened along the way so that the film didn’t feel as long.