TL;DR – Much like the Yorkshire Moors that is filmed on, this is a film that is both harsh and yet filled with moments of beauty
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
My family originally came from Yorkshire, so when I spot a film set in the region I always give it a watch to try and connect with my past. Well, I am not sure what I expected when I loaded up God’s Own Country, but what I got was a film that was both frank and also a little optimistic in a world of bleakness.
So to set the scene, Johnny lives and works on a farm with his father Martin (Ian Hart), and his grandmother Deirdre (Gemma Jones). He spends all day grafting on the farm and all night in the local town drinking. Wake up, chuck out the contents of his stomach and repeat. Most of his friends have gone off to university, however, because his dad had a stroke and can’t work the farm like he used to, Johnny has to step up and take all that pressure. Given some issues, Martin calls in some help, as they are about to go into calving season, and Gheorghe (Alec Secăreanu) a Romanian farmhand takes the job. There is instant tension between the two because Johnny sees Gheorghe has a manifestation of his failure but he needs the help.
is a film that does not in any way hold back from the realities of running a
farm, especially when you have not enough hands to do all the jobs. It is
constant hard work, in odd hours, in uncomfortable conditions, in rain, hail or
shine. If you are at all squeamish about the things that might happen on a
farm, including animals giving birth, animals dying in birth, cleaning up after
animals, look just dirt in general, then you may have a tough time watching this
film. However, while there is a harshness to the location, there is also a
bleak beauty to it all as well. There are scenes where you see the Moors in all
their glory and it truly is a scene.
This is also a film that knows completely what its scope is and how to make it work the best. Most of that narrative is focused on just four characters, Johnny, Gheorghe, Martin, and Deirdre and because of this, they can streamline the story but also give it the depth it needs. Ian Hart gives a powerful performance as the father that is held back by his own body, dependent on his mother and son, the two people he should be assisting, not the other way around. Gemma Jones once again shows just what an amazing presence she is in every film she is cast in. There is a power to her performance, a sternness yet also a caring heart.
of course, leads us to the two leads played by Josh O’Connor and Alec Secăreanu,
two actors I have never seen in a film before but who instantly made a mark
here. There is instant chemistry here between the two, which is important for
the story because this is where the emotional core of the film lies. There are
some pretty frank and explicit sex scenes between the two that will make you
deeply uncomfortable if you are not someone who wants to see sex scenes in
their films, or those of you feel that anywhere would be better than a field full
of mud and other things. Their relationship progression feels organic because we
spend time beforehand getting to know them and what drives them.
I have a feeling that most of this film was shot on location, on a working farm, and because of that it has a layer of texture that you just can’t recreate on a set, or if you can it would cost you a lot of money. What this does is help both ground the film in its setting but also give a visual context to the struggle everyone is going through. You fell that everyone is on the cusp of losing everything and that they are doing everything possible to just stay afloat. This is a good use of visual storytelling to help support the narrative.
In the end, so we recommend God’s Own Country? Yes and no, and that will depend mostly on people’s subjective tastes. If you are someone who does not like frank displays of sex or the realities of running a farm then this will be a very uncomfortable film for you. But for me the bleakness was the frame for a story about fighting through the shit life has been dumping on you and that is something that deeply resonates with me at the moment.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of God’s Own Country
Directed by – Francis Lee
Written by – Francis Lee
Music by – A Winged Victory for the Sullen
Cinematography by – Joshua James Richards
Edited by – Chris Wyatt
Production/Distribution Companies – British Film Institute, Creative England, Met Film Production, Shudder Films, Inflammable Films, Magic Bear Productions, Orion Pictures, Samuel Goldwyn Films & Picturehouse Entertainment
Starring – Josh O’Connor, Alec Secăreanu, Ian Hart, Gemma Jones, Harry Lister Smith, Melanie Kilburn, Liam Thomas & Patsy Ferran
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 18A; Germany: 12; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: 15; United States: Not Rated