Gods Own Country (2017)
A wonderful film that knows when to be silent, and yet can still communicate volumes.
Synopsis: Johnny is a farmer in Yorkshire going through the motions of farm life when Gheorghe arrives to help for lambing season. The two don’t get along at first, but their relationship is life changing for Johnny.
One of the most amazing things to watch in this film is Johnny’s development and evolution over the course of the film. In the beginning, we see him going through the motions of life because he must. His interactions with others are basic and gruff. Johnny starts out as animalistic as those on his farm – eats like one, acts like one, has sex like one. I’m not sure he even has anything to live for.
When Gheorghe arrives, Johnny is annoyed by his presence, but over time he begins to make a connection. It seems like Gheorghe has an almost magical presence that calms and relaxes those around him. A metaphor for this can be found when Gheorghe first arrives and starts getting settled in the camper. He takes the lightbulb from the ceiling that casts a harsh light and puts it into a lamp that creates a more soft, diffuse light. He later does something similar to Johnny.
Connections with other people are what make life so interesting and relevant, and in God’s Own Country Johnny becomes a person who is better able to make those connections. At the end of the film I feel like he is almost a new person. There is a scene where he is helping his father that I couldn’t have imagined taking place at the beginning of the film. The movie takes a guy who exists in a physical world of going through the motions and unhappy with life, to an emotional one where he can connect with people.
Taking control of one’s life is another theme that I found resonated in the film. Johnny does this over the course of the film. But we also see an example with his father, Martin. Although he has become disabled he still exerts control over Johnny in different ways – mainly through emotional and verbal offenses to make him feel less than.
I love that there are so many scenes where there is little dialogue but still so much is conveyed. In an interview with the cast it was mentioned that although there wasn’t much dialogue in the script, it was still a thick script because of all the detail that was put into it. This is a credit to Francis Lee and the cast who worked so much into so little discourse.
There are comparisons to films like Brokeback Mountain, but I feel like this movie stands on its own. It is beautifully shot like Brokeback, but it feels different and develops the characters differently. God’s Own Country will draw you into the characters’ world and leave you feeling like you witnessed something amazing.