Andrew Haigh (WEEKEND, 45 YEARS) directs Steve Buscemi and Chloë Sevigny in this modern-day western, about a 15-year-old lost soul who hooks up with a pair of itinerant horse trainers and develops a powerful bond with a racehorse on its last legs.
Andrew Haigh joins a tradition of European filmmakers who have ventured to the American west in search of inspiration. Based on a novel by Willy Vlautin, LEAN ON PETE is a modern-day western, reminiscent of films like Sam Peckinpah's JUNIOR BONNER and Nicholas Ray's THE LUSTY MEN. Small-town racetracks and the spirited, independent outsiders who populate them provide the subject for Haigh's finely observed tale of a young dreamer discovering the stern realities of the new west.
Charley (Charlie Plummer) is a 15-year-old lost soul, pent up in a fleabag Portland apartment with his abrasive father. He goes looking for a summer job and ends up meeting Del (Steve Buscemi), a grizzled horseman kicking around the smalltime circuit training and racing quarter horses with his partner, Bonnie (Chloë Sevigny), a jockey. In no time they become an inseparable trio, and Charley discovers a genuine love for the animals. He grows particularly attached to a failing racehorse named Lean On Pete. But when he discovers that his beloved horse has reached the end of his racing days and is due to be disposed of by the unsentimental and practical Del, Charley ends up on a cross-country adventure through the beautiful mountains and plains of the interior.
Charley's trip becomes a poignant story, as the boy comes to grips with the realities of being alone with no one to take care of him, and the faithful Pete as his only companion.
-Piers Handling, TIFF