Love on the farm

A film to make you feel good

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Johnny (Josh o’con­nor) and Ghe­o­rghe (Alex se­care­anu)

God’s own Coun­try

PG Josh O’con­nor, Alex Se­care­anu, Ian Hart ★★★★ Johnny (Josh o’con­nor) is a man of ex­tremely few words, or even fa­cial ex­pres­sions. on a strug­gling farm on the york­shire Moors, he toils from morn­ing to night, do­ing the work his sick fa­ther (Ian hart) can’t. At night he gets drunk. he oc­ca­sion­ally picks up men for sex, but kiss­ing and con­ver­sa­tion are off the menu. Johnny’s mood is as low and dark as the storm clouds that seem to fol­low him around. De­but di­rec­tor Fran­cis Lee has made the story of this quiet, un­happy man into a ro­mance that shakes with warmth and feel­ing.

The agent of change in Johnny’s life is Ghe­o­rghe

(Alex se­care­anu), a ro­ma­nian mi­grant who comes to the farm to help with lamb­ing sea­son. Johnny treats Ghe­o­rghe as he does ev­ery­one else, as if he’s barely there, un­til they’re sent off into the hills to tend to the sheep. Af­ter bick­er­ing a bit, Johnny at­tempts a rough se­duc­tion. he just wants sex in the mud. Ghe­o­rghe chal­lenges him to ac­tu­ally feel some­thing.

Lee draws this fal­ter­ing ro­mance with­out sen­ti­ment but with a full heart. The men get to know each other mostly by watch­ing – Johnny stand­ing by, try­ing to sup­press a smile while Ghe­o­rghe gen­tly coaxes a dy­ing lamb back to life – rather than talk­ing. With ex­quis­ite per­for­mances and a pa­tient pace, dia­logue isn’t needed to know that feel­ings are grow­ing.

It’s tempt­ing to make com­par­isons to Ang Lee’s Broke­back Moun­tain. Both chart a ro­mance that de­vel­ops be­tween one man who speaks his mind and one who barely speaks at all, when they’re sent away on a farm­ing job. Both are equal parts anger and ten­der­ness. sheep fea­ture heav­ily. This film, though, isn’t about love sup­pressed in fear of so­ci­ety but in fear of con­nec­tion. ho­mo­pho­bia isn’t per­va­sive in this tiny vil­lage.

It’s Johnny’s fear that his life is a dead-end that makes him shy from re­la­tion­ships, not his sex­u­al­ity. Lee steers away from ob­vi­ous story beats we think are com­ing and never al­lows him­self an easy emo­tion. In his world, liv­ing is hard and lov­ing is harder, but, says this won­der­ful film, the chal­lenge is worth fac­ing. Olly Richards

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