The Vernon Film Society’s second film of the fall schedule at our new location at the Galaxy Cinemas in the Polson Mall is Lean on Pete.
The story takes place in and around Portland in the pacific northwest where we meet an average 15-year-old kid named Charlie played by Charlie Plummer (All the Money in the World) who struggles near poverty with his single father — who is having his own challenges – and living in a fleabag Portland apartment.
His life changes when he’s jogging by a horse track one day and encounters the cantankerous horse owner Del (Steve Buscemi — Fargo) and is offered $25 a day to do random jobs at the track. And that’s when Charlie meets Lean on Pete, one of Del’s gorgeous horses. Del exists on the fringes of quarter horse racing, taking the animals to small races, and often selling them after they succeed — or disposing of them in a not so nice but profitable way if they don’t. Charlie quickly figures out what that means. Chloe Sevigny (Boys Don’t Cry) plays Bonnie, a jockey for Lean on Pete and the three become a close trio.
As circumstances and the possible fate of Lean on Pete change, this becomes somewhat of a road odyssey about a boy and the titular horse. As the film builds momentum, Charlie’s situation becomes increasingly desperate and moving, but never in a way that feels melodramatic. When this young man sees a beautiful animal that may not have many races left in him, he responds emotionally. He’s not yet grown too cynical from adulthood to do so.
We go with the beauty of this story in the same manner that Charlie falls for that horse—it feels like we don’t have a choice. It’s really the story of someone falling into a dangerous situation because he acts with his heart—he doesn’t know how to do anything else.
One reviewer was quoted as saying he’s worried that the film would be a tough sell for people who are going to consider it either a movie for young audiences or a manipulative melodrama. Far from it, this lyrical and emotional movie will touch your heartstrings no matter your age and maybe question your courage to do what you think is right.
The film is playing at the Galaxy Cinemas on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. Regular prices of $7. Advance tickets can be purchased at the Bean Scene Coffee House one week prior to screen date or purchased at the door. Rated 14A.