Like Frankie in Eliza Hittman’s revelatory Beach Rats, Johnny (Josh O’Connor)—a West Yorkshire shepherd in Francis Lee’s bracing new film GOD’S OWN COUNTRY—is a sullen, self-destructive, working-class youth, fully aware of his same-sex desires, and determined to satisfy them free of any emotional (or political) commitment. Johnny’s pattern is fairly typical: rough assignations in bathrooms by day, followed by nightly beer-soaked binges. Whether he makes it to his bed, or passes out in a pasture, he manages to get up every morning to feed the sheep on his family’s farm.
Enter itinerant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), newly arrived from Romania. Hired to muck out the barn (and forced to suffer, up to a point, Johnny’s characteristic abuse and ignorance), Gheorghe has a tender touch with animals and in the kitchen. An inevitable physical confrontation between the two young men triggers a frisson of recognition, and Johnny’s emotional armor begins to crack.
Acclaimed at its local premiere at Outfest 2017—and hailed in its home country as the first pro-Europe film, post-Brexit—GOD’S OWN COUNTRY is now playing in West Hollywood, Pasadena, San Francisco, and Manhattan.
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY, now playing.
AMC DINE-IN SUNSET, 8000 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood.
LAEMMLE PLAYHOUSE, 673 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena.
OPERA PLAZA, 601 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco.
IFC CENTER, 323 Sixth Avenue, at West 3rd Street, New York City.
See Colin Crummy, “God’s Own Country is an Optimistic Addition to the Queer Cinematic Canon,” i-D, August 21, 2017: