3 1/2 (out of 4)
Andrew Haigh hasn't lost a step this decade. After two distinctly different meditations on relationships and time in the homosexual hookup of Weekend to the long-delayed crisis in marriage of 45 Years, Haigh – seemingly wise beyond his years at age 45 – returns with his finest film of the decade in Lean on Pete.
On the surface, it's a classic tale of a horse and his boy. Charley, played by the young and utterly promising Charlie Plummer, lives alone with his sleazy yet loving alcoholic father (Travis Fimmel). Charley locates his passions in helping gruff Del Montgomery (Steve Buscemi) take care of a half dozen racehorses. Earning money while traveling with jockey Bonnie (Chloe Sevigny) for local races, Charley can’t help growing attached to an older quarterbred named Pete.
Working as scenic Midwestern odyssey as well as a harrowing and hushed tragedy, Lean on Pete pulls no punches. Yet the blistering emotions that arise from its story aren’t at all tainted with sentiment or schmaltz. On paper, the film's more devastating moments might appear manipulative – onscreen, every pivotal moment is punctuated and improved by intuitively beautiful direction.
Utilizing selective long takes in key scenes in addition to stunning wide shots and superimpositions – particularly in the film's substantially spacious second half – Pete is visually transporting yet understated. Especially in low lighting and even in its bleakest passages, Haigh’s film radiates uncommon warmth.
Propped up by superb acting and gentle yet potent cinematic power, Lean on Pete rises far above its innate simplicity – it's as terse and true as a classic folk song.
To keep it brief...
briefings on Incredibles 2, Tag
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