Lean on Pete

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Lean on Pete
Lean on Pete poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAndrew Haigh
Screenplay byAndrew Haigh
Based onLean on Pete
by Willy Vlautin
Produced byTristan Goligher
CinematographyMagnus Joenck
Edited byJonathan Alberts
Music byJames Edward Barker
Distributed byCurzon Artificial Eye
Release date
  • 1 September 2017 (2017-09-01) (Venice)
  • 4 May 2018 (2018-05-04) (United Kingdom)
Running time
121 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$8 million[1]
Box office$2.5 million[2]

Lean on Pete is a 2017 British coming-of-age[3] drama film written and directed by Andrew Haigh, based on the novel of the same name by Willy Vlautin. It stars Charlie Plummer, Chloë Sevigny, Travis Fimmel and Steve Buscemi, and follows a 15-year-old boy who begins to work at a stable and befriends an ailing racehorse.

It was screened in the main competition section of the 74th Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor or Actress by Charlie Plummer. It was released in the United States on 6 April 2018, by A24, before opening in the United Kingdom on 4 May 2018, by Curzon Artificial Eye.


While out on a morning run to a race track, Charley Thompson, a 15-year-old living with his single father Ray in Portland, Oregon, finds casual work caring for an aging racehorse named Lean On Pete. Pete's owner, Del, is an ornery man who assigns all the grunt work of caring for horses to Charley but attempts to bond by gifting Charley a pair of boots and teaching him table manners. Charley opens up about not knowing his birth mother, and how his father does not let him see Aunt Margy, Charley's only maternal figure.

One night, a Samoan man breaks into Charley's home and attacks Ray for sleeping with his wife. Ray is pushed through a glass door and the shards embed themselves in his stomach. He is taken to the hospital where a nurse informs Charley that Ray is suffering from a serious infection caused by his wounds. Despite Charley's insistence at staying by his side, Ray encourages Charley to continue his job with Del.

Del's top jockey, Bonnie, races with Pete and wins but notices that Pete is getting too old for racing and will soon be sold in Mexico to be slaughtered. Upon returning home from the race, Charley is informed by the attending nurse that Ray succumbed to his infection and died. The nurse gifts him Ray's belt but Charley escapes before Social Services can be called to collect him. The following night, Pete loses his race and is sold off. Charley confronts Del and Bonnie, who collectively shrug off Charley's attempt to buy Pete. Charley takes Del's keys and steals Pete, along with Del's truck, and heads for Wyoming in search of his Aunt Margy.

After a few days on the road, Charley soon runs out of money and resorts to siphoning gas and dining-and-dashing in order to survive. The truck breaks down on the highway and he continues on foot through the desert with Pete as his only source of company. Together, they stumble upon the home of Mike and Dallas, two Army veterans who offer Charley food and shelter. Charley refills his water supply and leaves in the middle of the night. The next day, Pete is spooked by motorcycles and runs out into the road where he is struck by a car and killed. Charley mourns Pete's death and flees the scene before he can be apprehended by police.

After arriving in a new town, Charley breaks into a house in search of water and to launder his clothes. He wanders the streets as a homeless youth before being taken in by a homeless couple named Silver and Martha; Silver scoffs at Charley's attempts to find work. Despite his disheveled appearance, Charley finds work as a house painter and saves up enough money to get to Wyoming. Silver attacks Charley for his money and kicks him out of their shared trailer. In retaliation, Charley steals a crowbar and beats Silver before taking his money back and running away. He buys a bus ticket and arrives in Laramie, Wyoming. He goes to the town's only public library and reunites with his Aunt Margy.

That night, Charley visits Aunt Margy's room after struggling to fall asleep. He confesses the crimes he committed throughout his journey and reveals he suffers from nightmares surrounding the deaths of both Pete and Ray. Aunt Margy consoles Charley as he bursts into tears. Some time later, Charley goes on a morning run through town and stops to admire his new neighborhood.



In May 2015, it was announced Andrew Haigh would write and direct the film, based upon the novel of the same name with Tristan Goligher to produce the film under his The Bureau banner, alongside Film4 Productions.[4] In July 2016, Steve Buscemi joined the cast of the film.[5] That same month, Charlie Plummer, Chloë Sevigny, and Travis Fimmel joined the cast of the film.[6][7] In September 2016, Steve Zahn, Amy Seimetz and Thomas Mann joined the cast of the film.[8][9]

James Edward Barker composed the film's score.[10]


Principal photography began on 13 August 2016, and took place in Portland[11][12] and Burns, Oregon.[13][14] Filming concluded on 10 September 2016.[15] Among the locations was Portland Meadows racetrack,[14] named Portland Downs in the film.[16]


During post-production on the film, Thomas Mann's role was removed from the final cut.[17]


In May 2016, A24 and Curzon Artificial Eye acquired U.S and U.K distribution rights, respectively.[18] The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on 1 September 2017.[19] It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September 2017[20] and the BFI London Film Festival on 5 October 2017.[21]

The film was initially scheduled to be released in the United States on 30 March 2018, however it was pushed back a week to 6 April, and was released in the United Kingdom on 4 May 2018.[22]

Critical reception[edit]

As of October 2020, the film holds a 90% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 188 reviews with an average rating of 7.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Lean on Pete avoids mawkish melodrama, offering an empathetic yet clear-eyed portrayal of a young man at a crossroads that confirms Charlie Plummer as a major talent."[23] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 80 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[24]

Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com gave the film 3+12 stars, saying "I marveled at the humanist depth of the world Haigh creates, one that can only be rendered by a truly great writer and director, working near the top of his game."[25] Austin Dale of INTO named the film the best of 2018 while grieving its modest box office returns, calling it "both the most American film of the year and the year’s toughest sell."[26]


  1. ^ Grater, Tom (9 September 2017). "The story behind Andrew Haigh's 'Lean On Pete'". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Lean on Pete (2018)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  3. ^ "Lean on Pete review – coming-of-age quest for a horse and his boy". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  4. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (21 May 2015). "Andrew Haigh's next film to be 'Lean on Pete'". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  5. ^ Jafaar, Ali (7 July 2016). "Steve Buscemi Set To Star In Andrew Haigh's 'Lean On Pete'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  6. ^ Jafaar, Ali (11 July 2016). "Charlie Plummer Lands Lead Role in Andrew Haigh's 'Lean On Pete'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  7. ^ Jafaar, Ali (19 July 2016). "Chloe Sevigny And Travis Fimmel Join Cast Of Andrew Haigh's 'Lean On Pete'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  8. ^ Grater, Tom (10 September 2016). "First look: 'Lean On Pete'". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  9. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (13 September 2016). "Tommy Flanagan Sings Along With 'The Ballad Of Lefty Brown'; Thomas Mann Joins 'Lean On Pete'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  10. ^ filmmusicreporter (15 March 2017). "James Edward Barker to Score Andrew Haigh's 'Lean On Pete'". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  11. ^ Fox 12 Staff (20 July 2016). "'Lean on Pete' filming in Portland". Fox 12 Oregon. KPTV. Archived from the original on 23 July 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  12. ^ Haigh, Andrew (15 August 2016). "Day 3..." Instagram. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  13. ^ Burns Times-Herald (24 August 2016). "Film Crew Seeks Movie Extras". Burns Times-Herald. Archived from the original on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  14. ^ a b Baker, Jeff (10 April 2018). "'Lean on Pete' gets its setting and its soul from Portland Meadows". The Oregonian. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  15. ^ Sevigny, Chloë (10 September 2016). "Middle of #nowhere last day on #leanonpete🐴 thank you @andrewhaigh1973 #whenlovetakesyoutofaroffplaces". Instagram. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  16. ^ Turan, Kenneth (5 April 2018). "Review: A lonely teen finds the horse he needs in 'Lean on Pete'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 30 April 2018. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  17. ^ Turner, Kyle (19 March 2018). "A Place To Always Go Back To: Andrew Haigh and Charlie Plummer Talk Lean on Pete". Paste. Paste Media Group. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  18. ^ Goodfellow, Melanie (13 May 2016). "A24 picks up Andrew Haigh's 'Lean On Pete' for North America". Screen Daily. Screen International. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  19. ^ Anderson, Ariston (27 July 2017). "Venice Competition Includes Films From George Clooney, Guillermo del Toro, Darren Aronofsky". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  20. ^ "Lean on Pete". Toronto International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  21. ^ "Lean on Pete". BFI London Film Festival. British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  22. ^ "Lean on Pete". Launching Films. Film Distributors' Association. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  23. ^ "Lean on Pete (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  24. ^ "Lean on Pete Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  25. ^ Tallerico, Brian (6 April 2018). "Lean on Pete". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  26. ^ "25 Great Films — and 5 Disappointments". www.intomore.com. Retrieved 2019-02-09.

External links[edit]