God's Own Country review: Brilliant and touching, the "British Brokeback" is unmissable

James Luxford
God's Own Country

It’s particularly grim Up North in this story of love and hardship. Heralded as the ‘British Brokeback’, God’s Own Country follows Yorkshire farmer Johnny (Josh O’Connor) as he battles with booze, his sexuality and a future working on his father’s farm, with the arrival of Romanian seasonal worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) inspiring some complex emotions.

Directed with almost military precision, the scenes dealing with every day farm-life have a documentary feel to them (both stars trained on real farms before filming). Beyond the hay bales, it’s a story of largely unspoken love. O’Connor and Secareanu have tremendous chemistry, giving their characters a real arc of progression. They dislike each other at first, with Johnny’s mistrust of his migrant colleague feeling especially topical, but slowly tenderness begins to show. They’re helped by two cracking supporting turns in Ian Hart and Gemma Jones, as Johnny’s father and grandmother. With very little in the way of dialogue, the older cast members fit an entire film’s worth of emotion into pointed glances.

On the surface, God’s Own Country sounds like an unrelentingly grim prospect, but amid the windy moors and sheep skinning are moments of real beauty. A surefire art house favourite, this will renew your faith in both love and British cinema.

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