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film review

God’s Own Country.

It's early spring in Yorkshire but there are few signs of rebirth on the isolated moors of northern England. Johnny Saxby lives with his Nan and Da on a sheep farm, miserable with his lot and resenting a mother who deserted him and an infirm father who relies on him to keep the dilapidated homestead afloat. To cope, Johnny (Josh O'Connor) numbs himself with copious pints, drugs and rough sex with young men.

His anger grows when a migrant worker shows up to help during the week of lambing. A gentle, handsome Romanian, Gheorghe (Alex Secareanu) puts up with Johnny's boorishish briefly, but then he pushes back and slowly teaches the other to trust, feel and (actually) talk again.

God's Own Country is writer-director Francis Lee's debut and comparisons to Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain are inevitable. But where Brokeback was sweeping Wyoming vistas and homophobic backlash, this enigmatic little film says it all in razor-sharp closeups and minimal words, where one small gesture – Johnny's two fingers rubbing his dad's calloused knuckle – speaks volumes about love and redemption in this unforgiving land.

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