Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Lean On Pete

Reviews - Lean On Pete

Lean On Pete

Reviewed By Roger Gook

Lean On Pete
Lean On Pete
"Do something else before there's nothing else left to do" Charley is advised in Andrew Haigh's new film 'Lean on Pete'. Already having been dealt a bad hand in life, Charley's father dies as a result of his feckless life style, and Charley takes to the road with an injured racehorse. The film becomes a modern odyssey, moving among the losers of the American Dream and showing that for many there is not much else left.

Charlie Plummer, playing Charley, holds the film together with a brilliant, understated performance. He gives Charley an immense vulnerability but with a toughness built of hope of a better life. His only chance is to find a distant aunt, but his journey there is fraught with problems, many caused by his own bad choices – choices made when there were no real alternatives. This gives the viewer many "don't do that, Charley" moments, but we are sitting in comfortable seats.

In a film populated by losers and chancers, Haigh shows a belief in the innate humanity of people and Charley is offered kindness in several poignant scenes. There are echoes of Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, but where Steinbeck gives little hope, Charley finds some in a life with his aunt. In a finely judged ending, deftly stopping short of the sentimentality that threatens the film at times, Charley is finally able to break down in tears. He asks his aunt if he can still stay with her after he goes to jail, and perhaps go to school. A small but real aspiration after life has knocked him down so many times.

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