God's Own Country farms the typical rural lifestyle to produce an intimate relationship. 'Brokeback Mountain' set in the Yorkshire Dales. Early morning chores as sheep frolic in the fields and cattle are constantly giving birth. As the sun sets and night dawns upon our chiseled farmers, a cosy rest in the barn produces palpable sexual tension. LGBT films have progressed substantially in the last few years, appealing to a wide range of audiences. Yet, those that evoke powerful character investment, are presented through an honest perspective on life. Grounded in realism, this drama shrouds itself in British flora and fauna crafting one of the most delicate bonds I've witnessed in a long time. Living the stressful life as a young farmer, Johnny suppresses his frustrations with casual sex and large alcohol consumption. That is until he meets a migrant worker, whom he quickly falls in love with.
Lee's humanistic approach to this flaming romance upholds the brutality and naturalism that love has to offer. Despite the cold harsh exterior that Johnny exhumes, making him nearly unapproachable, his nullified silence speaks more words that the dialogue lets on. In fact, the various conservations throughout are minimal, which is to Lee's advantage. It enhances the visual metaphysical tension between Johnny and Gheorghe, to point where it took my breathe away. Every soft touch. Every aggressive action. Beautifully organic. Character development done to near perfection.
Whilst Gheorghe acts as a plot device for Johnny, it's the latter who remains the relatable character. The enormous pressure that bears down upon him, from the daily running of the farm due to his ill father to the struggles of self-acceptance, ensures that he is the central character worth investing in. Eloquently performed by O'Connor who is able to express the inner turmoil of Johnny just through his exhaustion. The scenes he shared with Secareanu (the Romanian Oscar Isaac...) were spellbindingly gorgeous on the most intimate level. I was hanging on to every nervous breath that Johnny released as he came to terms with himself. Stunning. I ship them completely! Hart also gave a noteworthy performance, ending the role beautifully with a short yet honest conversation with Johnny.
The cinematography is an important element in depicting the rural aesthetics of the tattered farm. Vivid clean photography that brought the smell of mud through the screen. That fresh countryside air. You smell that? Mmm. With the farm hosting various cattle, there were several scenes involving the animals that were slightly too excessive for my taste. Incredibly realistic, and with that I found myself wincing at the man-handling of the sheep and cows. It deterred my investment from Johnny on multiple occasions. The final scene could've been more emotionally involving, however I appreciate the tender approach that Lee went for.
God's Own Country is another exceptional LGBT romance harnessing the very essence of humanity within its characters. Still hasn't convinced me to live up North though, too cold for my liking...