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John Paul Getty III

'Lean on Pete' review: A horse story of a different, darker color

'Lean on Pete' review: A horse story of a different, darker color

When we first see 15-year-old Charley Thompson, the human center of the devastating new film “Lean on Pete,” he’s jogging on the streets of Portland, Ore., a long way from the bohemian coffee bars and “Portlandia” cliches of popular culture. This is the other side of the tracks, the America all around us. Except on our screens.

Charley and his fond if unreliable father (Travis Fimmel) have recently moved to Portland from Spokane, Wash. Charley is waiting for school and for football season to start up again. His life is relocation, in persistent cycles. The house he and his father live in at the start of “Lean on Pete” does the job, barely. The lamps have no lampshades; the paper...

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