Charley Thompson (Charlie Plummer) has had it rough his entire life, and director Andrew Haigh's screenplay for Lean on Pete only provides more suffering for the kid. He's only 16 years old, an often-tumultuous time. One is on the cusp of adulthood but hasn't quite reached an understanding of the world to the degree of operating alone within it. There is some dependency that Charley needs, and thankfully, he recognizes that by the end of the film. The story, though, certainly puts him through the wringer. This is, at times, an oppressively bleak experience.
See my full review at Joel on Film.