Lean on Pete

Rated 4.0

For all the emotional repression of the characters in Andrew Haigh’s Weekend and 45 Years, those previous films felt tightly wound, while the first half of his latest effort Lean on Pete is the kind of wandering, navel-gazing indie movie that critics charitably describe as “austere” or “stark” or “exquisitely observed.” Charley Thompson (Charlie Plummer) is a miserable 15-year- boy who was long ago abandoned by his mother and sentenced to a lonely life with his impoverished and promiscuous father. While out running one summer day, Charley meets a crusty, bottom-feeding horse trainer named Del (Steve Buscemi), and accepts a low-paying job tending horses, including a rapidly deteriorating quarter horse called Lean on Pete. After the long, slow burn of the first half, Lean on Pete takes a Walkabout-like veer into the desert void, and like an old horse getting a sudden shock, the film suddenly comes charging to life.