GOD’S OWN COUN­TRY

Love and live­stock… OUT 1 SEPTEM­BER

Total Film - - Big Screen -

The award-win­ning de­but fea­ture of Bri­tish writer-di­rec­tor Fran­cis Lee, this gay love story has al­ready drawn favourable com­par­isons to Broke­back Moun­tain. Its set­ting is a re­mote farm in the Pen­nines, where tac­i­turn twen­tysome­thing Johnny (Josh O’Con­nor) car­ries out most of the gru­elling work on his own, since his brusque fa­ther (Ian Hart) suf­fered a stroke.

En­ter Ro­ma­nian worker Ghe­o­rghe (Alec Se­care­anu), who’s been hired to help dur­ing the lamb­ing sea­son. Johnny’s ini­tial hos­til­ity to the hand­some new­comer, how­ever, gives way to feel­ings of ro­man­tic at­trac­tion.

Like the re­cent The Lev­el­ling, the impressively acted God’s Own Coun­try pre­sents a brac­ingly un­sen­ti­men­tal vi­sion of liv­ing and work­ing in the Bri­tish coun­try­side. For­mer ac­tor Lee and DoP Joshua James Richards keep the sweep­ing shots of the sur­round­ing land­scapes to a min­i­mum, pre­fer­ring to hone in on the body lan­guage of the men while they carry out the seem­ingly end­less du­ties of car­ing for the live­stock.

Early scenes re­veal the ex­tent to which Johnny numbs his emo­tions through binge drink­ing and ca­sual sex, which makes the char­ac­ter’s grad­ual open­ing up to real in­ti­macy all the more mov­ing. Tom Daw­son

THE VER­DICT

New­comer Lee has crafted a timely ro­man­tic drama, rooted in a keenly ob­served ru­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

FaceTime catch-up, Pen­nines-style.

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