Lean on Pete, Saddle Up, It’s a Wild Ride

My brother recommended Lean on Pete (directed by Andrew Haigh, also of 45 Years, another solid film) and I joked with him after that he’d owe for the Valium needed to come down from the angst. But the bigger question is, my brother didn’t like the Florida Project due to its realism, so why did he like Lean on Pete, which was more harrowing by a long shot?

No matter, we all have our pet topics, some of us are PETA people, some care about child neglect and abuse (me), others more concerned with wayward youts (that’s a My Cousin Vinny relate) and I’m assuming my brother’s soft spot.

Lean on Pete took the torture your hero screenplay conceit to new heights. The obstacles were plenty and while the movie kept me in suspense, due to its 2 hours running length frayed my nerves. At one point, I turned to my date (a non-sequitur specialist) and said, “I’m going to kill my brother” since I was tired of shielding my overly sensitive eyes and ears to the violence.

I will say the movie did an excellent job in the putting me in a different mind space as I walked out of the theater thinking I might be homeless, especially as I walked solo home, carting my take out guac and salsa, passing by packs of families and dinner dates.

Yet Charlie (the main character of the film, portrayed AMAZINGLY well by Charlie Plummer, also of The Dinner) understood, and I empathized, that it takes a strong person to deny needing anyone’s help, and to suck it up and go it alone. It beats the hell out of wanting someone’s loong story to come to some type of meaningful conclusion.

Supportin cast-wise, Steve Buschemi was great as the horse owner, Chloe Seivgny fantastic as the cynical female jockey Steve Zahn as drunken a-hole (sorry no other way to say that), Travis Fimmel as drunken dad. The only weak link was the Aunt, who seemed too obscure, but I guess at the point in the film where she is discovered, we just want white milk and not a white Russian.

See this film, it may get a nom or two come awards time.

45 Years, What Lies Beneath

45 Years

Guilty admission: I only went to see this film because of a traumatic relationship experience in which the ‘man of my dreams’ played a song on his acoustic guitar and claimed that it was our song (My One and Only Love by Coltrane). Months (not years, thank heavens) into our relationship and many requests by me to hear the song both in our house and at a jazz club, he received a card from a woman named Kate, signed My One and Only Love.

Being the masochist I can be on occasion, I went to watch something much more haunting on the big screen The therapeutic payoff was worth it. To see Charolotte Rampling struggle against wanting to snoop into the attic boxes, to see her ruminations in the pained expression of her face, helped me re-live and simultaneously diminish the power of my hurt feelings.

Marriage, I fully realize, has many benefits. On the other hand, when a major deception, a hidden hurtful truth or unmet yearning is revealed, the state of devastation is much more overwhelming. I have witnessed a dedicated 40 year marriage devolve into abandonment and cruelty and wonder if being single isn’t much more palatable.

Does Charlotte Rampling deserve the Oscar? Nah, but it is a tremendous psychological performance. I thought Tom Courtenay did just as fine a job portraying the bumbling, babbling brook of a man upended by a letter from Germany. Due to his shiftiness (and as an audience member we debate: ‘or is he merely elderly’?), we suspect his words and share in Charlotte’s despair.

Worth a rental on a rainy day, but possibly toxic to a marriage on the brink of any destructive confessions.