“God’s Own Country” is at last on DVD.
The film focuses on Johnny (Josh O’Connor), a young man whose life is forever changed when he is forced to work with a Romanian immigrant on his Yorkshire farm.
Johnny simmers with rage, drinks himself blotto when he can and has quick sex with random locals.
But when his ailing father forces him to work with Gheorghe (the handsome Alec Secareanu), Johnny finds his irritation falling way to desire and then something much more powerful.
“God’s Own Country” has been called a Yorkshire “Brokeback Mountain,” and that’s not precisely fair. This film has its own story to tell, and it does so with compassion and honesty.
Johnny, though he could never articulate it, has been starving his entire life for affection. His father seems as hard as the land; his grandmother is old and seems fueled by sheer will power. His mother abandoned the family when Johnny was young, unable to endure the bleakness of their existence. Johnny sees nothing but responsibilities to the land that he never asked for.
Then Gheorghe arrives.
Johnny resents the newcomer’s presence.
The two eventually clash and crash and have a rough sexual encounter in the mud.
The next time they get close, Gheorghe guides Johnny. He gently caresses Johnny, and Johnny kisses him, and although it is never stated, you know Johnny well enough to know this is his first kiss, his first genuine intimacy with any man. The two make love, and the way Johnny clings to Gheorghe, it’s as if he’s taking his first true breath.
Johnny being Johnny, he mucks up his connection to Gheorghe, but he pushes himself to make it right.
Spoiler alert: This is a film that skips the cliches of gay cinema. This is not a film that ends in death, destruction or despair.
Director Francis Lee tells his story with a minimum of dialogue and a maximum of realism. You might learn more about raising sheep than you ever wanted. O’Connor and Secareanu share understated performances and a poignant romance.
“God’s Own Country” captures a man awakening to the possibilities of love, of hope, of dreams for a tender tomorrow. It’s a film worthy of a place in your library.
5 thoughts on “‘God’s Own Country’ Finds Room for Love”
Thanks for posting about this movie. I’ve never heard of it until now. The coming together of seeming opposites reminds me of Eytan Fox’s “Walk on Water” in which a gay German and a straight Israeli become friends.
“Walk on Water” is a great film, one that left me wanting more. I hope you get to see “God’s Own Country,” Brian. In addition to DVD, it hits video-on-demand on cable systems across the country this week. Let me know what you think.
[Warning: Potential Spoilers]
I can understand why this movie has been compared to “Brokeback Mountain”.
But the characters in “God’s Own Country” are more complex. My opinion of them changed as the story went forward. For example, John’s father seemed a controlling bastard at first, but later I felt he was just struggling to feel in control as his body and mind failed him.
GOC is a world of mud and piss and afterbirth and near-poverty. How anyone could practice such gentleness there, how anyone could teach the difference between sex and love there, is the triumph of this movie.
I admire the metaphor of the dead lamb’s skin being fitted to the motherless lamb, which is then echoed in the sweater John pulls over himself later. There’s a similarity to the two shirts in Brokeback, though this is even deeper in its suggestion.
One question: at the end, we see a car driving away with the trailer. Did John’s parents leave the farm, or do you think the trailer was just no longer needed because Gheorghe was staying on permanently?
Oh, and I’d take a kiss from Alec Secareanu any day.
I can’t even count the number of times I have watched “God’s Own Country” since I made that post.
Every time I watch the film, I see something new. Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu give outstanding performances. Johnny’s arc, as a man discovering love for the first time in his life, is beautifully presented.
As for that last scene, Brian, that indicates Gheorghe is moving in. He’s there to stay. Director Francis Lee just gave an interview to the Hollywood Reporter in which he talked about his determination to give the film, and viewers, a happy ending.
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