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Bishops Castle Film Society

God’s Own Country - 23 Jan 2019

dir. Francis Lee. UK. 2017. 104m

Johnny (Josh O’Connor), surly, alienated and emotionally immature, is shouldering the burden of running the struggling, isolated Yorkshire farm where he lives with his grandmother (Gemma Jones) and his disabled, critical father (Ian Hart). His life is devoid of any warmth and the farm work is a long, lonely, hard grind. Johnny finds relief in nightly binge drinking at the local pub to the point of oblivion, and detached, joyless sex with a lad at the stock auction. To help with the lambing season, Johnny’s father hires Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), a Romanian migrant worker, who Johnny greets with ill temper and abusive comments.

 

As they are forced to work together, it becomes apparent that Gheorghe has a deep knowledge of farming and a connection with nature and the landscape which is novel to Johnny. After a rough initial encounter, an understanding develops between them and they become lovers. Through Gheorghe’s more hopeful outlook and gentler approach to relationships, and later through the need to care for the father when he has a second stroke, Johnny begins to mature and his vision widens. Much of the early part of the film is bleak with sparse dialogue and an emphasis on the harsher aspects of hill farming, but ultimately the themes are of hope and the possibility of change.

“It’s the kind of world in which bone-aching toil is a way of life and secrets are buried deep beneath the damp sod.” [Wendy Ide, The Observer, September 2017]

“God’s own Country weaves a rough magic from…[the] biting cinematography and the story’s slow, unsteady arc from bitter to hopeful. Bodily fluids – bestial and human – stain the screen, punctuating a story that’s as much about rediscovering place as finding love.” [Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times, October 2017]

“…[T]he two actors’ chemistry is genuine and grapefruit-sharp. The film has a cumulative power that sneaks up on you…and a twilit afterglow that hasn’t faded yet.” [Robbie Collin, The Telegraph, September 2017]


 

 

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