God’s Own Country is the film Hollywood forgot about.
Move over Jon Snow, there’s a new brooding protagonist in town.
Meet Johnny, (Josh O’Connor) the son of a disabled sheep farmer (Ian Hart), living a rather monotonous life in the rural moors of Yorkshire, consisting of drinking, puking and casual hook-ups with random men. But this is all turned upside-down with the arrival of Romanian farmhand Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) who is there to work on Johnny’s father’s farm during lambing season.
Much like Brokeback Mountain, Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country follows the story of sheep farmers twenty-somethings find love and happiness in a place that is quite hopeless. This film highlights the more tender transformative power of love and change. Not only between Johnny and Gheorghe, but Johnny and his family.
Unlike the nostalgic and dreamy aesthetics of the critically acclaimed and wonderful film Call Me By Your Name, Lee’s film rejects the typical idealistic summer vibes of romantic films by making his have a sense of a raw tenderness which ultimately makes it feel more real. We are often left with uncomfortable amounts of silences and no dialogue that stretches out. It feels harsher, lyrically and poetic than a dreamy, hazy-recollection of a beautiful summer romance in 1980-something northern Italy.
The Wuthering Heights and gothic-ish aesthetics of God’s Own Country is not only reflected through the wild moors and its beauty but also in the characters themselves. Their love is … intense, to say the least, much like Catherine and Heathcliff…minus all the death and obsession. Johnny’s lack of tenderness and softness when it comes to affection and sex could be fuelled with social ideas of masculinity but Gheorghe’s moments of compassion with the animals change him to be a better man.
It might not be winning any Oscars anytime soon, but the film has already bagged itself seven awards in the indie scene including Best British Independent Film and rising star O’Connor’s performance won him Best Actor at the 2017 British Independent Film Awards. The most important thing this British indie gem has won, is my heart and time.
A lot and a lot of time. It’s one of the best films Hollywood has overlooked.
By Cynthia Vera