A wonderfully performed and impressively unsentimental story of love and longing in the Yorkshire Pennines. The debut feature of Yorkshire born actor and director Francis Lee is rightly being acclaimed as one of the best British films of the year.
It follows in the great cinematic tradition of presenting the British countryside as a tough landscape peopled by hardy folk who find real emotions often hard to express. Reviewed by some as a ‘British Brokeback’, in truth this tough and at times sensual and even romantic film is more than that, and in a very British way it tackles unspoken emotions and hidden fears all set against a wonderfully bucolic backdrop.
Josh O’Connor is superb as young Johnny, working the family farm as hard as he can, and seeking solace and escape through drink and casual sex. He has to take on the majority of the work as his father (Ian Hart) is suffering in the aftermath of a stroke. His dad, along with his grandmother (Gemma Jones), present a tough and stoic front that is as much temperament as it is a reflection of generations of hard-working, tight-lipped farming stock. But things change when young Romanian farm worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) arrives, with things coming to a head – physically and emotionally - when Johnny and Gheorghe have to spend nights away up in the hills repairing a dry stone wall.
This is not a bleak or dour film. Instead, God’s Own Country is optimistic in its reflection of love, and while farming the Pennines is a tough existence, the splendour of the backdrop exhibits a fierce beauty that perfectly suits the film’s title.
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