Gallery: Snapshots from the Open Road

Henri Frederic Amiel once declared that "any landscape is a condition of the spirit" And there are few more evocative landscapes than in the north-west of the United States. Andrew Haigh's new film, Lean on Petefollows the plucky Charley (Charlie Plummer) and his trusted steed as they travel on through the pastoral beauty of America's vast landscape, bound by friendship and driven by hope.

Early European settlers described the swathe of land that comprises much of America as the Frontier, but it has since earned the simpler moniker, the West. Or, more recently, 'Flyover Country' - the disparaging term used by those opposed to Trump, who see the collection of states between the two US coastlines as responsible for the election of the country's 45th President. 


This landscape has been a preoccupation for countless filmmakers, from John Fords The Searchers (1956) to Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas (1984). And now Andrew Haigh's Lean on Pete continues the tradition, with its evocation of ordinary lives set against a vast panorama. 


A far cry from his earlier Weekend (2011) and acclaimed 45 Years (2015), Haigh's new film is an adaptation of Willy Vlautin's much-loved 2010 novel. It tells the story of a teenager (Charlie Plummer) who spends his time around a local stables, employed by a curmudgeonly horse owner (Steve Buscemi) and befriended by a jockey (Chloë Sevigny). But family tragedy and a threat to his favourite horse find him striking out on the open road and in search of a distant relative. 

With cinematography by Magnus Nordenhof Jønck, who helped accentuate the chilly environs of the original The Killing TV series, Lean on Pete is a rapturous paean to rural America. Charlie Plummer gives a star-making central performance and Haigh's adaptation and direction are typically subtle, but it is the film's imagery that remains in the memory long after it is over. 


Lean on Pete opens in cinemas and on demand Friday 4 May.


Photographs by Scott Patrick Green

Words by Ian Haydn Smith