Critic Reviews



Based on 44 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
This is a compassionately observed story told with unimpeachable naturalism and without a grain of sentimentality, propelled by a remarkable performance from Charlie Plummer that's both internalized and emotionally raw.
Just about every scene in Lean On Pete, the sensitive, unvarnished, at times powerfully sad new drama from writer-director Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years), reveals something small but important about the hardscrabble lives it chronicles.
While Lean on Pete risks turning gratuitous in terms of narrative flourishes and excess, it’s never gratuitous in its characterizations. Each individual encounter is rendered with compassion and respect.
Each scene is so quietly compelling because Haigh doesn’t focus on cruelty, but helplessness.
It’s saved from all-out depressiveness by Haigh’s compassion, which cradles the characters within their often desperate situations.
Lean on Pete is at its potent, stirring best during the opening furlough, when it focuses on this makeshift hobo family as it criss-crosses the Pacific Northwest from one racetrack to the next.
There’s a wistful quality to the storytelling which softens some of the sharper edges of tragedy and hardship in this undeniably affecting picture.
[Haigh] hasn’t sacrificed a shred of the understated, observational style, lace-like emotional intricacy and lung-filling feel for landscape that all made his previous film, the Norfolk-set marital drama 45 Years, such a force to be reckoned with.
Lean on Pete is certainly not a film without qualities (credit to the supporting cast and Magnus Nordenhof Jønck’s cinematography in particular), but viewers might just feel the gnawing sense of a director losing his grip on the reins.
Sadly, the intriguing set up - along with Del and Bonnie - is left behind for a too nakedly state-of-America musing, with everyone Charley happens across having some social ill to portray.

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