harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

Recommend: God's Own Country


Just a short post to recommend "God's Own Country" (2017). I was doing a full review of this, but it's a slow-burn drama, so there turned out to not be a lot to have a running commentary about. But I highly recommend watching this one if you have access to it.

I caught it on Netflix. And I'm recommending it for the acting, and the non-sensationalist/non-big-dramatic-confrontations-cliche tropes of the scripting. The two leads are wonderful, and the whole atmosphere captures an ambiance of a hard-working family, barely hanging on, and the "ruthlessly-practical, just get on with it then," attitude that almost traps everyone into being emotionally distant and disconnected.

And the changes that a gay man, who isn't able to engage in actual relationships outside of 'quick-hits' suddenly has to confront when he's forced into a working & unexpectedly emotional relationship with an intinerant workman in Northern England, who isn't going to be an anonymous hookup for him.

The four main actors are all marvelous: Josh O'Connor, Alec Secareanu, and especially the secondary character actors, Ian Hart & Gemma Jones.

I loved this film. And I return to re-watch it semi-often [for as long as Netflix will carry it: It's still there if you have a Netflix account]. I especially find very moving the ending when our main character tracks down Gheorghe Ionescu to try to convince him to come back to the farm after he's left, for reasons you can watch the film to find out about [I'm sure there is a reason for my connection in my own psychological makeup, that this would speak to me so deeply, but let's not turn this into a therapy session].

There is some really great dialog from Josh O'Connor, while also not breaking down into an emotional wreck, but very much wanting to convince his desired paramour that he wants this relationship. And I absolutely love that, unlike so many gay dramas, this one doesn't have a traumatic coming-out scene: Johnny, not exactly public - but not hiding it either - is already known among his family, and his apparently one friend, to be a homo. And nobody bats an eye. These are rural, hard-working, farmers... but they're not cut off from society. They get it, and Johnny doesn't face the usual gay-drama tropes when it comes to having to come out and then seek acceptance. There aren't any gay pride parades where he can make an inspirational speech, but there also isn't any gay-bashing/convincing family he's the same person he was before drama either.

God, it is so refreshing that our main character's sexuality isn't the main conflict. It's his ability to actually admit that someone he's involved with means more to him than anyone else he's ever banged and how he can make that clear, without breaking his basic character, that is the heart of the struggle he faces.

The only reason I can't rate it higher, is because of the deliberate pacing and there are a lot of scenes that seem to wander. It's necessary, I think, in retrospect to understand the environment that our family exists in, but it can be a crawl for those who aren't ready for a matter-of-fact, low-key, character-focus storytelling style. So much of the family interactions are about speaking about the running of the farm, but it's used to indicate more personal feelings.

Repress, but not deny. Speaking through something else in code, but hoping everyone is grabbing the depth of feeling you're trying to express but can't say outright because it isn't done that way... [I'm not in a farming family, but Jeez - I can relate so hard, and fearing that the outsider isn't capable of grasping what you're actually saying, when you can't speak it outright because the words refuse to cross your lips... that is what the scripting is doing].

It receives a 4.50 out of 5 stars. But you have to have a certain amount of patience, and enjoy character-driven drama, rather than wanting big dramatic/cathartic scenes in order to enjoy it.

I should think it will help if you tend toward character-development over heavy-plot type stories as your personal bread-and-butter.

Tags: gay, opinion, recommendation

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