God's Own Country

"Essential"

God's Own Country Review


There's a reason why this is perhaps the best-reviewed British film of the year: it's a staggeringly skilful feature filmmaking debut for West Yorkshire born and bred Francis Lee. And while its premise may make it sound like "Brokeback Mountain on the Moors", it's actually something far more original that that.

The story is set on a hill above Keighley, where young Johnny (Josh O'Connor) has been forced to take responsibility for running the family sheep farm while his father (Ian Hart) hopefully recovers from a debilitating stroke. His grandmother (Gemma Jones) helps manage the house, and is worried that Johnny's hard-drinking ways are going to cause problems. So she hires Romanian immigrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) to help out. An expert with lambs, he soon begins teaching Johnny a thing or two. And on an extended trip to the far reaches of the land, they finally see past their bickering to a mutual attraction for each other. But Johnny is struggling with opening up about any of his emotions.

Thankfully, Lee never plays into the usual movie cliches. Homophobia isn't an issue here, so these two young men must cope with the implications of their budding relationship without that pressure. Much of the weight is on Johnny's shoulders, as he resists identifying as gay. This certainly isn't just about sex. That's here, but the more powerful scenes involve things like Gheorghe teaching Johnny the value of a gentle cuddle. Yes, the film has a remarkable eye for powerful detail, and both O'Connor and Secareanu are terrific as guys who come together in unexpected ways. O'Connor has the bigger challenge trying to make the abrasively distancing Johnny likeable, but he manages it with earthy honesty. While Secareanu's charm and intelligence keep Gheorghe from becoming a stereotypical foreigner.

Lee directs the film with remarkable authenticity that requires both actors to know what they're doing on the farm. And this attention to detail gives both of the characters (as well as the ones played by Hart and Jones) so much texture that they're easy to identify with. It helps that the camerawork by Joshua James Richards is so adept at capturing the people and places. And the presence of even bigger issues like generational conflicts, social pressures and modern-day farming adds layers of depth without ever turning preachy. Instead, this is just a strikingly well-observed story about two lost people who find each other in an unexpected place.

Rich Cline



Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Francis Lee

Producer: Manon Ardisson, Jack Tarling

Starring: Josh O'Connor as Johnny Saxby, Alec Secareanu as Gheorghe Ionescu, as Martin Saxby, as Deidre Saxby, Naveed Choudhry as Male Nurse, Stefan Dermendjiev as Bearded Farm Worker, Patsy Ferran as Robyn, Moey Hassan as Taxi Driver, Melanie Kilburn as Gloria, John McCrea as University Boy, Harry Lister Smith as Trainee Auctioneer, Alexander Suvandjiev as Young Farm Worker, Liam Thomas as Glen, Sarah White as Joy

Contactmusic


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.