It’s time for a watch – or rewatch – of 2017’s God’s Own Country – ready for an online Q&A on Sunday 17 May.
If you haven’t yet seen 2017’s God’s Own Country, you really, really should; if you have – you will know exactly what I mean. Either way, now is the time for a watch or rewatch, as director Francis Lee and the two lead actors Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu are going to be chatting and answering questions live on Picturehouse Facebook and Youtube on Sunday 17 May, 8pm BST.
The film is a wonderfully performed and impressively unsentimental story of love and longing in England’s Yorkshire hills. Young sheep farmer Johnny numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe for lambing season ignites an intense relationship.
This is one of the best British films of recent years, broodingly beautiful in its portrayal of rural life and the search for love and intimacy. The fact that the central duo are gay is NOT what the film is about – refreshingly the story doesn’t contain homophobia, a tragic ending or even a coming-out story. They just are gay (or maybe bi, we don’t know or need to know), but the story revolves around Johnny’s fear of intimacy, his unfurling to an acceptance of love and how hard it can be to open yourself emotionally to another, family difficulties – universal issues that affect us all.
The central pair are beautifully acted by the then little-known Josh O’Connor (who has since then played Prince Charles in Netflix’s series of The Crown) and Alec Secareanu, who can be seen in Romola Garai’s horror story Amulet and the forthcoming The Bike Thief. But Ian Hart as Johnny’s dad and Gemma Jones as his grandmother are equally subtle in their portrayals of uncommunicative working-class people. The cinematography is stunning, taking in the beautiful Yorkshire landscape as well as close-ups on the farm and farmhouse, and the soundscape is lush, with minimal music and much attention to the sounds of the farm, the wind and birdsong. Director Francis Lee, who has won so much praise for this beautifully crafted debut feature, is now finishing Ammonite, which stars Kate Winslet as a Victorian fossil-hunter who has a passionate affair with a young woman convalescing by the sea (played by Saoirse Ronan).
And this film does affect us. It has touched numerous people around the world. I can attest to this, having made friends online and in real life through my passion for this movie – and I now chat regularly to people in Canada, USA, Indonesia, Japan and Australia, as well as the UK, in conversations that start with Johnny and Gheorghe but spiral off to many other areas. The #GOCFanFamily will be gathering on Sunday to join the Q&A. See you there.
You can buy or rent the film via the film’s website.