Star Rating:

God's Own Country

Director: Francis Lee

Actors: Alec Secareanu, Gemma Jones, Josh Oconnor

Release Date: Friday 1st September 2017

Genre(s): Drama, Mystery

Running time: 104 minutes

Young farmer Johnny Saxby (Josh O'Connor) numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker (Alec Secareanu) for lambing season ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.

Whenever people argue that adult, intelligent films are missing from cinemas nowadays, you only need to point them in direction of God's Own Country. The film follows a relatively straightforward trajectory, but it's the manner in which director Francis Lee stages each scene and uses wide, open landscapes and vistas to draw out emotions from the audience that makes it so unique.

The film follows the burgeoning relationship between angry, walled-off farmer Johnny and the people around him, be it his family - both archetypes of rural gruffness and practicality - or his friends, who have since moved on and left the wilderness of Yorkshire. Josh O'Connor's performance is incredible, all grunts and anger, that eventually thaws to reveal a desperately lonely person. This begins with the arrival ofGheorghe, played by Alec Secreanu. The film allows for a period of time where Gheorghe and Johnny understandably have animosity, if not ambivalence, towards one another, all owing to Johnny's surroundings and upbringing.

The film then follows as the relationship blossoms between them, and follows a similar line of Brokeback Mountain, where circumstance and duty prevents one from fully realising their relationship with the other. It may be familiar, sure, but Francis Lee handles it all with such deftness and style that it doesn't really matter. The film is grounded so heavily in the environment - the film was shot on a working farm that belonged to Lee's family - that it becomes part of the story itself, and plays both into the harshness and intensity of their relationship. While there is an element of glacial pacing with the film, it's all reflective of how slow life moves in the country - and why it can be such a frustrating experience to live there.

For a debut film, God's Own Country marks Francis Lee and the cast as upcoming talents to take note of.