Small-town racetracks and spirited, independent outsiders are at the heart of Andrew Haigh’s (45 Years, Weekend) deeply moving tale of one boy’s connection to a very special racehorse, amidst the stern social realities of the American west.
When 15-year-old Charley (Charlie Plummer) arrives in Portland, Oregon, with his single father Ray (Travis Fimmel), both are eager for a fresh start after a series of hard knocks. But while Ray descends into personal turmoil, Charley finds camaraderie at a local racetrack where he lands a job caring for an ageing quarter horse named Lean On Pete. The horse’s owner Del (a gruff Steve Buscemi in a terrific cameo) and his seasoned jockey Bonnie (Chloë Sevigny) help Charley fill the void of his father’s absence — until he discovers that Pete’s welfare is not as high on Del’s list of priorities as he’d like, prompting him to take extreme measures to spare his new friend’s life.
Based on the brilliant novel by Willy Vlautin, Haigh’s beautiful adaptation is a deeply compassionate tribute to the irrepressible hope and resiliency of vulnerable people pursuing their dreams of finding love, acceptance and a place they can call home.