God's Own Country

1 h 44 min201718+
Johnny works on his family’s remote farm in northern England, but when a handsome Romanian migrant worker arrives to take up temporary work on the farm, Johnny finds himself dealing with emotions he has never felt before.
Francis Lee
Josh O'ConnorAlec SecareanuGemma Jones
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Ian Hart
Manon ArdissonJack Tarling
Samuel Goldwyn Films
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4.7 out of 5 stars

2180 global ratings

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Ethan SeegardReviewed in the United States on February 9, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
God's Own Country, As fine a film as Brokeback Mountain and A Single Man, perhaps a smidgen better
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One of the reviewers writes that God's Own Country is no Brokeback Mountain. True it's not like the latter film, but it's just fine and powerful.
There is great emotions and feeling to this film, about a man discovering his capacity to love, tenderly brought to the surface by a Romanian immigrant/worker to England. The character John Saxby is a lonely gay man who has few social skills, and when it comes to loving, he's almost totally ignorant. And he has a drinking problem. God smiles on him by sending to him a a Christ-like young man, who with his beard somewhat looks like Christ, and who happens to be a superb shepherd not only of sheep but of John (cf the lord is my shepherd"). John needs/craves tenderness and love, and he finally receives both and it transforms him. The angry young man transforms into a maturer man, one capable of sensitivity and love.
He's basically a good man, but the burden of assuming the responsibility of his father's sheep/cattle farm is too much for him. He finds escape from his problems and his lack of love in booze and casual sex. The family has hired a Romanian to assist him. On their first trip alone together to repair a stone wall out on the moors, they young men become intimate. There's a D.H. Lawrence-like wrestling scene where the two fight each other until they both succumb to sex (Lawrence's men don't go all the way). This is the beginning of their relationship.
The story occurs in Yorkshire. One thinks of the Brontes, especially Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. I don't think it's farfetched to call this a gay Wutheriing Heights, the biggest difference being that God's Own Country not a tragic story. The two young men come together at the end of the film, after one of the most beautiful acting scenes I've ever encountered in a film when John finds his friend and reveals his love by finally saying, "I want to be with you." Very powerful scene, and the two actors should be very proud of this scene, as well as the director.
Now about the two actors. One reviewer lamented that the two lead actors aren't very good looking. I beg to differ. Josh O'Connor has what has often been called "rugged good looks." He's the perfect actor for this role because John Saxby lives on a rugged terrain, stones and rock everywhere. O'Connor's face is one of angles and grooves and cheekbones like rocky cliffs. He has a sensual mouth and large expressive eyes. He's a handsome man.
The other actor, Alec Secareau, is also a good looking man. I'm wondering if the director Lee Francis hired him because his face has a Christ-like quality. He has small, sensitive features, a kind mouth and eyes. As for their naked bodies, both actors have nothing to be embarrassed about. They are strapping young men, and it's all we need to know and to see.
Now their acting. Josh O'Connor is an extraordinarily gifted actor. He has stripped off all his own personal masks to play this role. To make himself so vulnerable, well, it took him a lot of courage to play this part. He reminds me of the great actor, Spencer Tracy, another actor with rugged good looks. I think O'Connor will have a great acting career, and I hope he chooses his roles wisely. I hope he doesn't make the mistakes Nicholas Hoult is making, the latter a gifted actor who's staring in awful movies. Well, let him make the money while he can, and he can later take on better films. The other actor, Alec, is also gifted. He has the gentler role so he doesn't leap off the screen the way Josh does. But he has his moments when the screen is all his. Two talented actors. The actors who play the mother and father are also talented, and they play their roles perfectly, a minimalistic style worthy of the film. As a review already noted, they convey so much by their eyes. Excellent actors, surely pros and it shows, Gemma Jones and Ian Hart. This movie is now up there with my favorite gay film Tom Ford's A Single Man.
I'm not sure if the director has deliberately employed religious symbolism, but to this viewer, there seems to be much to suggest Christianity. There's the gentleness of the Romanian worker who looks like Christ. We see him save sheep, feel them, show them affection.
When John hurts his hand, G.. the Romanian, takes his hand and spits on it to clean it of infection. G. teaches John to love. Later, John's wound on his hand looks like the pierced palm of Christ, which G. licks. Of course, there is the appellation given to the apostle, John the Beloved of Christ. Don't know if I'm reaching in this, but there is a meal, prepared by G. for John and himself. There is the swimming scene. the sunrise scene. And on the bus, the iconic image of John with his head on G's shoulder. A lovely image, so like holy icons of Christ and the Beloved John. Wish I could speak to the director Francis Lee about this. My gut feeling is that Lee wants us to think of both John the apostle and Christ. Such a film as this Christianizes gay love. And of course there is the title with the word "God." Yes, the director must want us to think in spiritual terms. . . .
Powerful scenes
The wrestling scene
Sharing of the salt
Sharing of a cigarette
Watching the sunset together (John's first time?)
Teaching John to kiss (John's first time kissing?)
The E.M. Forster-like swimming scene (baptism of love?)
Teaching John the tenderness of a finger's touch
John touching his ill father (first time?)
John bathing his stroke-struck father
The fight between the young men after John drinks too much and is unfaithful, and Geo. leaving
John lonely for G, and his mother giving G's address to him, written on a piece of paper, she knows her son
John finding G, the MOST POWERFUL SCENE, and his revelation of love
The driving home together on the bus together, John sleeping on G's shoulder
Taking away of the mobile van
The young men entering the house together, for life?
5 people found this helpful
James MorrisReviewed in the United States on June 2, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of the Finest Gay Romantic Dramas I’ve Ever Seen
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I came across God’s Own Country while browsing Amazon recently and decided to order it, despite the mixed reviews. I am so glad I did.

God’s Own Country is the story of a young man named Johnny Saxby. Johnny lives in Northern England on the family sheep and cattle farm with his father Martin and his grandmother, Dierdre. Johnny has been tasked with doing virtually all the farm work, because Martin recently had a stroke. In the course of this, we learn that Martin raised Johnny on his own, without a mother, which may account for Johnny’s immature lifestyle. To deal with the responsibility, Johnny has taken to spending every night in the local pub, drinking until he gets physically sick and then having sex with whatever young man is willing. However, he seems to be unable to carry any relationship beyond the most basic sexual function.

As the film opens, it's time for the annual shearing of the sheep, and Martin hires a young, competent Romanian farmhand by the name of Gheorghe to help Johnny with the work. At first, Johnny sees Gheorghe as some sort of threat to his position in the household and he develops an immediate resentment. The infinitely more mature Gheorghe however, is responsible enough to take his work seriously and pretty much ignores Johnny’s taunts and insults. Reluctantly, Johnny soon comes to realize that Gheorghe is someone who deserves his respect. Once they’re isolated in the remote area where the Sheep are kept, their relationship becomes sexual. Suddenly, in what is possibly Johnny’s first romantic relationship that extends beyond the physical, Johnny and Gheorghe begin to fall in love.

For those who may be tempted to think so, this is not a parallel to the more celebrated film, Brokeback Mountain. Despite certain similarities in the plot, God’s Own Country works on a totally different level than the narrative presented in the Ang Lee film. So much so, that I mention the earlier film only to dismiss the possibility of comparison.

What makes God’s Own Country work, more than any other factor, is the slow and tender way in which Gheorghe courts Johnny. He cooks for him, cuddles him, kisses him and is intimate in a thousand other ways than Johnny is used to. We realize this because of Johnny’s non-involvement in his other relationships, including his father and grandmother. It’s clear that Johnny’s innocence is quickly being stripped away in favor with a whole new way of relating to everyone in his world. The subtle nuances of Johnny and Gheorghe’s friendship, especially touching, kissing and cuddling are explored tenderly and without maudlin sentiment. This is an examination of love in its most basic, pure and true rendering, and the film shines because of it.

I have to confess that part of the euphoria that I felt while watching the story unfold was due to the attractiveness of the character played by Alec Secareanu (Gheorghe). Gheorghe is presented as physically attractive, yes, but he is also attractive in so many other ways. Gheorghe is a tender, focused lover. He is shown to be wise beyond his years, talented, smart and loving. By the time the film was half over I was in love with Gheorghe myself. I kept thinking, “Wow what a hunk! What a catch!" If I could dictate exactly what I’ve always wanted and fantasized about in a partner and then added to it in ways I hadn’t even thought of, I would probably end up (happily) with someone very much like Gheorghe. The perfect lover. The most desirable man. A person you would want to spend your life with, without reservation.

As the film came to its ending, my satisfaction with this story was complete. I smiled, I felt warm inside and I think I even blushed when I realized how much I enjoyed this wonderful glimpse of perfect romantic love. I do not describe myself as a romantic, and in fact my view of gay relationships has grown somewhat jaded in my later years. I think that’s why God’s Own Country was such a pleasant surprise, not only in its story, but in my reaction to it as well.

A note on the aesthetics. The scenery in this film is gorgeous. The farm surroundings were realistically mundane. However, several reviewers complained that the film was advertised as having captioning, and they lamented that it does not, especially because the British accents in the film are particularly heavy. Well, I don’t know what happened since its original release, but I bought the Blu-Ray edition of God’s Own Country and my copy definitely had subtitles.

God’s Own Country made me feel alive again with the possibility of youthful love. I forgot how good it feels. I loved this movie!
2 people found this helpful
AnonymousReviewed in the United States on August 24, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
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I don't know where to begin in trying to describe this movie. It may be the most Christian film I've ever seen, even though there's not a word spoken about religion, and it is set - beautifully - within the context of a gay relationship. WONDERFUL film, smart, captivating, and redemptive. All about real love. Amazing.
Allan BroekmanReviewed in the United States on July 23, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent film
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I found this to be an exceptionally good film. The story is very good, the acting by one and all is excellent and the scenery of the Northern England background completely compatible with the story. I would strongly recommend it. It is way superior to many films in this category. The only slight concern I have is the absence of closed captions. The DVD box lists Closed captions as an option but the set up only gives auditory options. Nonetheless it does not really significantly detract from the movie . The DVD I got was in excellent condition and delivered well by Amazon.
Erich KeeferReviewed in the United States on August 20, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Very good movie
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Very good movie
Dodger712Reviewed in the United States on March 8, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of the best films to come out since "Brokeback Mountain".
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I cannot heap enough praise on this film. It is bleak but beautifully shot at the same time. The dialogue is sparse but the emotions of the characters are very apparent each time they open their mouths. This plays out a bit like a version of "Brokeback Mountain" where two guys discover one another while off on a trip to care for the sheep owned by the family of one of the men. It starts on a farm where the father, due to stroke, is unable to carry on with the day-to-day business of running the farm. This task falls on the shoulders of his son, who is very unhappy, believes his father sees him as unable (and possibly unworthy) of running the farm "properly". His escape is to drink to excess and have anonymous sexual encounters with men. He is unable to make more than physical contact with anyone. The father is critical of almost every move the son makes to the point that the son is about to explode in frustration, shame (that he cannot do things in a manner to get his father's praise and also shame over his homosexuality), and resentment of having been saddled with the farm out of a sense of duty. They hire a handsome young man to assist around the farm and that makes the son even more despondent and angry at the father and now at this interloper who is getting the praise from the father that HE is struggling to get.
The two must drive some distance on the farm and stay for several days to care for the sheep. During this time, wordlessly, the son and stranger, who is a kind and gentle man, discover a mutual attraction and change and healing begin for everyone in the family. The son is less sullen, the father learns to trust the son and becomes more patient and gentle, the son quits drinking for the health of his new relationship. Then another tragedy befalls the farm, testing all who reside there.
This was one of the best movies I've seen in a while. It is, as I said, a quiet movie with the dialogue not wasting time on frivolous discussions. Almost every word rings true, exposes more about the characters, and moves the story forward. This is one of those movies where the silence and facial expressions tell more than the dialogue ever could. We get the frustration of the father who is locked in a crippled body longing to be able to do what he could before his stroke. We get the son's psyche writhing inwardly as he tries and fails to please his father and reconcile within himself the feelings he has for other men. And we understand the kindness and passion in the helper as he understands what is going on and acts in ways that teach the son what he needs to do to be more efficient and to heal a broken and wounded soul. This film does not slap you in the face with the story and drama but nestles around you like a warm blanket on a cold day. It is uncomfortable to watch but comfortable at the same time. Once I realized what was motivating the outward emotions of the characters I could only feel sad for them and root for them to find a happier place emotionally. Beautiful film with two handsome lead actors.
4 people found this helpful
Rick HenryReviewed in the United States on February 6, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Would be nice if we knew what they said.
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So many films these days do suffer from the fact the actors will NOT speak clearly, and those who do the editing seem to ignore that... and we are further swamped with deafening music/sound tracks to also muddy the waters. In this case, this is a major, major flaw, for an otherwise engrossing film -- that there is no way to access the subtitles -- a major production error. After all, these guys have a heavy accent... and even "English" films are quite often difficult to understand. So I have definitely gotten into the habit of turning on my close caption enhancements whenever possible.

The film itself is no great shakes on drama or exposition. Often dreary in background, weather and décor, this does heighten the sense of isolation and removal from the rest of the world, to live in such a locale... and thus present a great difficulty for anyone to also be inclined to be drawn to a same sex partner. Yet it does have a richly poignant depth; and tugs at the heart. We could ask for a bit more of an exploration on how these two do "really" get together, as neither one seems to let on any hint of being that interested in the other. It rather happens all in a tangled rush, and does stretch the bounds of reality (for me). And oh, how convenient, that this rather attractive stranger from another country just happens to drop in -- and the male/male relationship is suddenly no big deal, and okay. Thought that was a bit too easily written-in, and without much preparatory conflict.

Nonetheless, that the two of them do finally get things rather straightened out, is heart-warming, and one ends up rooting for them all the way. The only other major drawback I had about the film... while the two men were not greatly handsome, and the one more than plain-looking, that is just fine with me, and an endearing part of the film, that they were rather on the ordinary scale. However, they unfortunately had very unattractive bodies, and this in the main, was an unpleasant feature. Not that I expect two" Mr. England's" from the highlands to be all muscley and buff and hung; but they could have been more physique-ly attractive, to make their immersion a bit more reasonable. After all, here they are in their 20's -- what in God's name will they look like at 50???? (No wonder I can't imagine most people ever having sex with each other in the first place. Much on the same order that while I loved CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, the incongruity of hunky Armie Hammer, and the skinny kid with the ugly body would ever get together, is almost mind-boggling. Yet they bonded well emotionally; but not in any way physically.)

I'm certainly not a shallow person. But if one's partner is not sexually attractive to start with, I just don't see going the extra mile otherwise. This is truly the way we are, and what we live with. The same as I can't tolerate the vacuity of men who "unload..." and that's all there is, no matter how gorgeous: nobody home, and substantial as an empty tin can. Thank God in this case, "gay" did not figure into it. It was merely two guys being two guys, and the way they needed and wanted it to be -- without labels, histrionics or costumes. The way it should. Only the rest of the world just can't seem to come to terms with that. Sad. And tragic. Hopefully, one day it will.
2 people found this helpful
Pittsburgh DaveReviewed in the United States on July 15, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
All time favorite gay-themed movie
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It feels honest and true and the character evolution is subtle and spot on. And the heat generated between the two leads is off the charts.
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