Gods Own Country (2017)
A story of love in the Yorkshire Dales rains down on its gloomy and lonely existence in the vast sprawling hills of homosexual encounters in first time director, Francis Lee’s Gods Own Country with a fierce yet calm ferocity reminiscent of Ang Lee’s heartbreaking Brokeback Mountain.
The difference between Francis’s gay love story and that of Ang’s is Ang’s looks upon the judgement and closeted affair of two men were as Francis’s story makes not a single noise of the homophobic attitude of blinkered humans. Set within a remote farm, the struggles of a young man solemnly comes purely from his own existence, stuck on the farm out of loyalty to his Grandmother and Father, who becomes incapacitated after stroke, whilst his friends have left him behind to find their path in life, until a hired hand changes his outlook.
Josh O’Connor’s Johnny is the young man in question, petulant, full of anger for the way his life has turned out, drowns his sorrows down the local pub most nights and enjoying casual sex with men in public toilets. During the day he sends his hours under the gaze of the typical northern Father and Grandmother, Emotionless, uncomplaining and hard working and expects the same from Johnny. When Johnny’s Father has a stroke, Johnny is expected to step up to the mark as his Father can no longer manage the farm, realising he needs help they hire a Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) for a few weeks, like chalk and cheese the two young men are forced to work together.
Gheorghe impresses everyone with his can do, hands on attitude and strong work ethic, even suggesting new ideas on how the family can make extra money from their sheep. As Johnny starts to let down his guard the pair are forced to spend days together up in the hills repairing a brick wall, away from prying eyes the boys give in to their own feelings indulging in a passionate and loving relationship, but love never runs smoothly as the pair soon find out.
There is a fine line to walk with low-budget independent film and first time filmmakers have to delicately balance their stories from toppling over into the diabolical, thankfully for Lee, he manages to keep himself and the picture stable thanks to the wonderful performances from his leading men indulging in an effortlessly realistic and gritty tonal portrayal of innocent love.
However, there are times where it lacks to keep the attention of the viewer completely entranced, your mind will wonder as it fails to grab at the jugular or build any kind of emotional attachment to its characters, leaving just as much coldness in our hearts than the grey and colourless location of the vast open Dales.
Gods Own Country is out in cinemas September 1st.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Francis Lee
STARS: Josh O’Connor, Alex Secareanu, Gemma Jones
RUNTIME: 104 Mins