God’s Own Country: Forsaken and for Rent

DATELINE: Intelligent Human Drama

 god's grubby country

If you want a movie that combines Brokeback Mountain with Far from the Madding Crowd, you have fallen into the sheep dip of God’s Own Country.

In case you’re wondering, God’s country is in the Northumberland section of Scotland where sheep are sheep, and men are men.

Johnny (Josh O’Connor) is an uptight, hard-drinking, unhappy young man living with his handicapped father and aging mother on a remote sheep farm in cold, desolate, and in a kind of run-down in the dumps setting.  He spends time at the local pub and local urban area and meets a fair share of attractive men, but he is miserable.

He falls down on his homestead duties—and his father brings in a Romanian gypsy-type (but don’t call him that). It’s hate at first sight, until one of those cold, desolate outings to the outback where outing becomes all the rage.

This is actually a fascinating little film, way beyond the ground-breaking of Brokeback and unlikely to be made in America where sheepskin is only for college diplomas.

Actor Josh O’Connor has a rough-hewn attractiveness, and Alec Secareanu is smoldering. They really carry the movie, as the cast is tiny and the lack of population doesn’t make for much company.

When the affair consummates, it enflames, but the drama is far more subdued and intelligent. At least we don’t have to listen to disco dolly music and fashionistas with witty repartee.

This movie is by director and writer Francis Lee and comes from a world of whence he knows. Though the characters seem to think they are in God’s beautiful country, they clearly need to take a trip to the tropics.

In terms of gay films for a gay audience, this slice of life with calves being yanked out of a mother cow, and lambs being yanked out of ewes may be too much for city slickers. It’s nature’s way, apparently, when out in the country.  It will be too much muck for some viewers.