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God’s Own Country

Francis Lee

God’s Own Country arrives at DCA fresh from opening the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where it deservedly walked away with the top prize, the Michael Powell award for Best British Film. Describing this beautiful film as ‘Brokeback Mountain transposed to a Yorkshire farm’ might be an easy summary, but this classic love story is also a coming of age film about a young man shouldering the responsibilities of the family business and the demands of his ailing father.

"British independent filmmaking at its finest."

Johnny Saxby (The Durrells’ Josh O’Connor) lives a lonely existence working on the family farm, with his father (Ian Hart) and grandmother (the wonderful Gemma Jones). His only chances to unwind involve drinking himself stupid in the local pub or engaging in meaningless sex with strangers. When Romanian farm-hand Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) arrives to provide additional help for a few weeks, Johnny is openly hostile. But his rudeness softens when the two men are required to work together out in the fields, away from the watchful eyes of his family. They slowly develop a cautious but passionate relationship, founded on mutual attraction but also on their shared interest in making the farm a success. Despite the joy this new-found intimacy brings to Johnny’s life, he struggles to express how he really feels, and his uncertainty about their future together begins to drive them apart.

Johnny and Gheorghe’s romance is made utterly believable by two superb central performances: O’Connor is heartbreaking as the taciturn Johnny while Secareanu radiates warmth and hope. This film also captures the beauty and the difficulties of trying to live off the land (you can almost feel the mud) as well as the tension between father and son struggling to hold on to the only way of life they’ve ever known. Made through the same low-budget funding scheme as Lady Macbeth, God’s Own Country is British independent filmmaking at its finest.