Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Josh O’Connor – Johnny Saxby
Alec Secareanu – Gheorghe
Ian Hart – Martin Saxby
Gemma Jones – Deidre Saxby
This film stayed with me for a few weeks after I watched it. I was truly touched; this was the first feature in years where almost everything appealed to me: the story and its characters, the set and scenery, the script, the way it flowed and scene transition, the emotions played, the perfect balance of comedy and drama.
..okay, and a nice serving of homosexual intercourse. I can’t help it, I love watching guys ‘get jiggy’. It’s masculine, it’s horny, it’s testosterone-fuelled. But with that said, God’s Own Country sweeps the used condoms off-screen as one of the most adorable love stories I have seen in film slides into focus. This movie isn’t the sleazy shite you see in most gay productions, nor is it as pretentious. I have seen a few gay productions in my time but this one is vastly different. A league of it’s own. The most striking thing about this film is how realistic it is. In almost documentary-like style, the camera follows the two young men as they work away on farms and hilltops and then go about daily life back at the farmhouse – even if it is just them watching TV or hanging out in the caravan. But somehow, it’s not boring and in fact this whole authenticity of life adds to the movie’s appeal and makes it that little bit more relatable.
There is a scene halfway through the film where Johnny lays on the sofa watching the evening news; his grandmother ironing laundry behind him and Gheorghe sat in a chair also watching the news. There is a bit of playful interaction between the boys before the Yorkshire farm lad jumps up and tells his grandmother he will continue the ironing for her.
She leaves the room.
Johnny jumps immediately on Gheorghe and starts kissing him.
But it’s not sordid. It’s highly romantic as the horny boy drapes his arms around the Romanian and kisses every inch of his neck, passionately..
..this heartwarming scene between the two men made my stomach do a flip. I’ve never really believed in the “warm fuzzy feeling” when watching a movie – until now. The love portrayed by both Secareanu and O’Connor is just fantastic, completely genuine. I loved it. But not just the physical interaction, I loved where the story was going; a highly disgruntled farm lad was slowly discovering what it was like to not just have sex with another guy but develop feelings for him. His frustration with life was evolving into contentment with himself, and it was lovely to watch.
God’s Own Country made me feel even more comfortable with being gay with its bold storytelling and undercurrent of hope. And if anyone out there is having a difficult time with his sexuality, feelings and urges, his attraction to other guys – watch this movie. I am certain you will feel better about your situation and ultimately realise you there is no need to struggle with your sexuality at all. Embrace it, go with it. It’s you.
(plus, no man will ever call you a week or so after you’ve had some fun and say, “you’re screwed now – I’m pregnant and I’m keeping it”).
This film is far from the likes of Brokeback Mountain where Jake Gylenhaal and Heath Ledger were made to wear cowboy outfits and both actors appeared to reluctantly get frisky with each other, subsequently managing to also palm off the production nice and quickly. I’m not being bias, I’m being honest – I’d never seen such a dishonest display of homosexual love in a movie before. This is where God’s Own Country swoops in and revamps the genre with genuine emotion and a truly believable plot.
There’s a famous saying: “it’s grim up north” – and this film proves it at times. God’s Own Country is a sweet little production, but it gets swamped by some bland imagery at times. There are a few sensitive scenes whereby an animal is being birthed or even probed in the anal passage with the help of the two lead characters, so if you get squeamish at sights such as a baby lamb plopping out of its mother’s cervix covered in gunk – this is not for you.
It is also quite dull in parts. The director makes good use of the Yorkshire countryside, but the screen is filled with dark skies and fog a lot. Even the moment the two men stand on a cliff edge looking down at the beauty below them.. what they are observing is swamped by blackish bush and mist. It’s not the prettiest of pictures, but fortunately the emotional link between the two men peps up the situation.
The storyline between Johnny and his father is sad. The old man suffers drastically with his health, leaving his son to be the one to take care of him. Scenes between the pair are acted superbly, even if it is slightly depressing.
God’s Own Country was filmed with the actors themselves taking part in farming activities; so when you see someone’s hand go up the arse of a huge cow, it is actually O’Connor. Poor sod. But hats off to the guys for learning the techniques and incorporating these into the film.
God’s Own Country is fucking beautiful. This film is the epitome of feeling contented. Not just romantic activity like so many other sloppy films portray, but that feeling of being complete in the presence of another person. A lot of productions these days are beyond sickly, with the likes of Zac Efron and Reese Witherspoon puckering up against an insufferable sea of bad jokes and predictable scenarios. Romcoms which give the genre a bad name and instantly alienate the more intelligent or engaging viewer.
Not here. This one doesn’t just give you two people who like each other a lot, but it tells this story in an incredibly realistic way. For example:
Johnny storms into his caravan miserable and stressed out.
There is a brief silence as Gheorghe studies him.
Johnny continues to act like a stroppy teenager, arms folded. Until Gheorghe moves across the sofa towards him and begins snuggling into his neck.
The viewer witnesses the transition from cold to warm within seconds as Johnny snuggles in to his new beau and goes giggly. It’s such a lovely scene this one, displaying an affection between two men so powerful it’ll have gay guys feeling full of hope and straight guys full of respect.
The unravelling of Johnny’s emotions as he explores what it’s like to be touched by another guy makes a moment to remember, especially the scene in the barn at night when the two men are working away on a hilltop:
Gheorghe enters the shack as Johnny lays asleep under his covers.
He senses his foreign workmate moving towards the sleeping quarters and his hand clenches..
Johnny sits up, Gheorghe strips his t-shirt off, and both men begin going at it. The air of erotic tension is heightened with tender emotions as the scene plays out, again proving that gay guys (or is Johnny bisexual?) are capable of genuine desire and not just a bit of juicy intercourse (A-HEM, all guys on Grindr and Tindr).
God’s Own Country lingered in my mind for 2-3 weeks after watching it. Call me a big softie (or a big pussy) but something about this film was hauntingly beautiful. Its added realism and refreshing take on the unexpected feelings between two men were sheer movie gold. This is one of those gems which contains no pretentious characters or plot, instead remaining authentic throughout with a handful of actors who are as convincing as its heartfelt story.
The balance between spunky and seriousness is spot-on too; Johnny getting sucked off by – then shagging a cute guy in a cattle trailer, and later laying in the arms of a guy who understands him as he strokes him lovingly. There’s something for everyone – the viewers who love a bit of sex, the viewers who adore a love story. Great stuff.
Right then. I think I’ve made my point here. Give this one a bash if you appreciate a raw romance and you won’t be disappointed. Practically a documentary, and a bloody good one.