GOD’S OWN COUNTRY is a no frills in-your-face romantic Yorkshire gay movie along the lines of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN minus a hell of a lot of commercialism. It’s a gritty realistic gay love story that is formed during the lambing season of spring. It is releasing this Thursday 31st August in Australia from Rialto Distribution. It is rated MA15+ and runs for 104mins. I do need to give a warning for this movie. Nope, not for gay sex, but the lambing season footage is all very real. There is some lamb birthing and there is a dead lamb that is skinned and more. Two renowned critics walked out of my screening during this footage.


God's Own Country Movie image




Spring. Yorkshire. Isolated young sheep farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe, employed for the lambing season, ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.

Johnny is young, immature and without guidance in being a gay man in such an isolated world. He lives with his grandparents in a sheep’s world. Fences to mend, lots of little mouths to feed and a property to manage. Pressure mounts for Johnny when his father has a stroke and the farm’s responsibilities build for him. He is trying to deal with the prospect of being trapped eternally in the farming life by himself and now he is discovering feelings for the worker Gheorghe. Discovering hidden emotions can be more challenging than birthing lambs by the look of it.


God's Own Country Josh O'Connor and Alec Secareanu image
Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu



I loved this movie but it wasn’t easy. It moves quite glacially in the beginning and Johnny is quite a frustrating character that grows on you. Francis Lee’s direction is sublime however and his slow build is well handled. GOD’S OWN COUNTRY is a film about discovery, passion, hope and overcoming life long issues. The life on the land is bloody hard and made the harder for this young gay gent. He is drowning in his issues and if it wasn’t for Gheorghe suicide wouldn’t be a negative option for Johnny.

Joshua James Richards’ cinematography is stunning and with the direction of Lee what they both capture is quite remarkable. The lambing and farming side does not hold back and I loved this about the movie. Discovering everything you need to know about Gheorghe as a farmer and as a person purely through watching his hands and then his entire self save a lamb by massaging mucus out of it’s throat and eventually rearing him was spellbinding. You do not know or find out all of Gheorghe’s history but it can’t have been too pretty. He has a sad past, you can see it in his eyes, but his tenderness and caring is something hard to resist for anyone. Seeing how this kind of human can change Johnny was as good as the sheep rearing. The parallels are quite evident.


God's Own Country Josh O'Connor and Alec Secareanu image
Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu



The acting in GOD’S OWN COUNTRY is natural and filled with such devotion to character it warms your heart. And you need it – that environment is as cold as it is bleak. O’Connor’s performance needs awards. It is so nuanced and raw you will want to beat him up many times and hug him in the next scene. Secareanu was also impressive but being the more subdued character he was outshone by O’Connor for me. Ian Hart was fantastic as the father suffering from a stroke, you truly dislike this man but in all fairness it wasn’t his fault. And to round out the acting was the superb Gemma Jones as Johnny’s grandmother. The hard back-boned lady of the farm who just holds it together in every scene. Her entire life is on the point of unravelling and seeing Jones deliver that onscreen made me smile. 


God's Own Country Josh O'Connor and Alec Secareanu image
Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu



GOD’S OWN COUNTRY won’t be for everyone. There is some Brokeback styled romance and the lambing scenes are quite confronting. Persevere through the slow start and you may fall in love with this movie as I did. The performance, the direction, the cinematography and the gritty realism of this tale deserve applause.





 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.


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