‘God's Own Country’: A Forthright and Impassioned Love Story from Rural England
“God's Own Country” (2017) is a striking British drama starring Josh O'Connor as Johnny, a young West Yorkshire roughneck forced to run his family farm after his father suffers a debilitating stroke. Embittered by his predicament, Johnny frequents local bars in the evenings, drinking heavily and engaging in furtive sexual encounters with other young men.
Johnny’s life remains sordid and glum until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker named Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), initiating a tense series of interchanges between the two as they labor side-by-side throughout the duration of Spring lambing season. Over time, however, the two young men bridge a tenuous camaraderie that ultimately blossoms into a passionate love affair, as Gheorghe opens Johnny’s world to a tenderness he has neither experienced nor understood in his previous encounters with male lovers.
Written and directed by British fimmaker Francis Lee, “God's Own Country” is an evocative and touching tale of self-discovery and acceptance, highlighted by immensely compelling performances from both leads. Secareanu, in particular, portrays Gheorghe as a wonderfully humane and sympathetic individual with as a deft hand on the farm as in the arms of his newfound companion. Inevitable comparisons to “Brokeback Mountain” aside, “God's Own Country” is astute, invigorating and stunningly well-crafted European cinema of the highest caliber.
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