God's Own Country

Director: Francis Lee
2017 | UK | 104m
GENRE: Coming Out | Drama | Gay | Immigration/Exile | Racism | Relationships | Romance | Sexuality
SECTION: Showcase | World Cinema
Expected Guests: Director, Francis Lee

Francis Lee’s striking debut feature, winner of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema Directing award, tells the rich story of John Saxby, a hard-drinking Yorkshire lad who keeps his emotions in check until an irrepressible (and sexy) Romanian immigrant comes to help out on the family farm. John has a few reasons for preferring the pub to home life — his dad, suffering from a second stroke, can’t do hard labor, forcing John to take on the drudgery of farm work by himself. He’s also hiding an attraction to men that only a self-destructive combination of alcohol and emotionless sex can temporarily assuage.

When Gheorghe arrives, there’s initial friction, but writer-director Lee attentively demonstrates how John’s instinctive feelings of rivalry toward his Romanian counterpart shift into something gentler and more vulnerable. Lee also expertly details the challenges of animal husbandry — one unforgettable scene shows how to make a ewe take care of the runt of her litter. But this is no bucolic portrait of farm life — God’s Own Country is full of fiery tempers and jolting sexuality, set amidst the fecund hills of rural Yorkshire. In the lead roles, Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu beautifully convey how passion and love can transform lives. The question of whether their budding romance can overcome the harsh climate they’ve adapted to becomes the central tension within this sterling queer tour-de-force.


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