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Parents' Guide to

Lean on Pete

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Haunting tale of survival and love has language, violence.

Movie R 2018 121 minutes
Lean on Pete Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 1 parent review

age 9+

A Portray of a Young Man!

I liked Charlie Plummer's performance in All the Money in the World as John Paul Getty III, and since then I became interested in his upcoming roles. In Lean On Pete, Charlie Plummer proved to me that he is not just a good young actor, but he is a very talented, and promising, actor. His character is fully-developed, and there are some very powerful lines that helped to flesh out this character, therefore, it became a very interesting one. But Charlie's performance made his character, Charley, even more relatable. His face expressions and reactions are enough to express the character's mind, and even to state what his character is thinking about at this particular moment. Travis Fimmel, as Charley's dad, gave an interesting performance. Also, Steve Buscemi and Steve Zahn were fantastic, and stole every scene they are in. There's only one character that hasn't much screen time, yet has a central role, that was really poorly written, and the actor who played it also wasn't good. So I was a bit disappointed to see that a character that seemed to have an important role in the story to end up to be nothing but stereotypical and thinly-written character. The Cinematography is mesmerizing in this movie, and really fits the movie's haunting atmosphere. Definitely one of the best-looking movies in 2018, so far. Just behind Paddington 2. The soundtrack also as functional as the cinematography, and the songs themselves are very touching and emotional. Although it's one of the movie's virtues that it avoids melodrama clichés, I think the movie neither as harrowing enough as Good Time, nor as realistic enough as Manchester By the Sea to be as poignant, or moving, as it wanted to be. Overall, Lean On Pete is a moving picaresque tale that avoids being very sentimental to evoke your feelings, instead, it relies on its three-dimensional protagonist that is anchored by Charlie Plummer's wonderful performance. Also, the plot unfolds in a way that you can never expect, you will really be shocked many times. Charley has no one to turn to. He's truly alone, hence, you will really care about him very much. (8.5/10)

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

This film is a traumatically beautiful drama that's surprising in a low-key way; it's moving and haunting. The unconventional way the plot unfolds is one of Lean on Pete's great virtues, so to describe it in too much detail feels wrong -- but it's important to note that child poverty and homelessness are central to the story. These themes are dealt with head-on, sometimes brutally. There will be inevitable comparisons to The Florida Project, but perhaps not since Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund's City of God or Hirozaku Kore-eda's Nobody Knows has there been so affecting a portrait of kids struggling to survive on their own. Unlike those films, however, Pete's protagonist has no one to turn to. He's truly alone.

Writer-director Andrew Haigh (45 Years) is definitely one to watch. You might expect the story of a boy and a horse on a journey to be sentimental, but Pete never comes close to earning that description. Haigh's unadorned style sinks viewers into story and character. There are no sweeping camera moves, no swelling strings to tell us how to feel or give us distance from Charley's struggles. In fact, there's barely any score at all. Something as cinematically ordinary as a fistfight has real consequences. There is some humor; it comes from recognition. And while there are "name" actors in Pete, their performances are almost all impressively grounded. Buscemi's introduction gets a laugh because Del's language and attitude are what we've come to expect from him, but the rest of the way, he just is his character. Like most people in the film, Del is neither good nor bad. Sevigny and Steve Zahn turn in similarly unadorned work that's a perfect fit for the film's world -- which is a high compliment. With deceptive simplicity, Haigh allows his characters to be as multifaceted as real people generally are. They don't feel like symbols placed to convey a moral. That said, throughout Charley's sometimes-harrowing journey, there is a through line: the undeniable need for love. Haigh skillfully builds that essential drive within Charley, so we feel his longing and his heartbreaks. Plummer's unselfconscious, totally committed performance certainly deserves to be remembered. We simply believe him. Without trying too hard, Lean on Pete delivers a profound meditation on the will to survive and the necessity of love.

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