Writer/director Francis Lee’s film festival phenomenon God’s Own Country comes to Denver for a fleeting week beginning Friday, November 24. The film has been compared to Brokeback Mountain, but the rural setting and two guys in love is the extent of similarity.
Francis Lee grew up on a farm in Yorkshire, England, and his intimacy with the terrain and daily routines is evident. British acting royalty Ian Hart (Finding Neverland, Breakfast On Pluto, Harry Potter, dozens more) and Gemma Jones (Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Wilde, Harry Potter, Bridget Jones) play the Saxbys, small ranchers scraping a living through the resentful labor of their son Johnny, whom they seem to think will be compelled by criticism, cross looks, and harsh silences. It is not an affectionate family, but they are dedicated to one another.
Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor in his first feature film lead) is a tall, lean young man who spends his nights getting plastered, having rutting, emotionless gay sex with strangers, then waking up to work the family farm hung over. His barging armor of ingratitude matches his parents’ bitterness at their individual traps.
Calving and lambing season arrives, and an immigrant laborer is brought on board to help. Johnny picks up Gheorghe (Georgy) from the train station. He is a Romanian who quickly establishes with Johnny that “gypsy” is a slur he won’t tolerate.
Although Johnny seems well-versed at picking up quick, grunting hookups, Gheorghe introduces him to a level of human contact that awakens and obsesses him. But Johnny soon resumes his role as his own worst enemy, naive to the consequences.
God’s Own Country is beautifully told, not self-conscious. Thankfully, despite the title, this film is not about religious stricture or oppression. It does present male nudity and depict sexual interaction between men. It is presented without MPAA rating.
For screening location and times visit www.LandmarkTheatres.com/Denver