7.8/10
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21 user 59 critic

God's Own Country (2017)

Spring. Yorkshire. Young farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker for lambing season ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Johnny Saxby
...
Gheorghe Ionescu
...
Deidre Saxby
...
Martin Saxby
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Male Nurse
Stefan Dermendjiev ...
Bearded Farm Worker
Patsy Ferran ...
Robyn
...
Taxi Driver
Melanie Kilburn ...
Gloria
John McCrea ...
University Boy
...
Trainee Auctioneer
Alexander Suvandjiev ...
Young Farm Worker
...
Glen
Sarah White ...
Joy
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Storyline

Spring. Yorkshire. Isolated young sheep farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe, employed for the lambing season, ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.

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Drama | Romance

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25 October 2017 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Isten országa  »

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1.85 : 1
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All scenes containing graphic images of animals are real and where shot on location at a real farm nearby the director's childhood home, without using body doubles for the actors. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Unusual yet very nice setting for a growing romance between a young farmer and a Romanian temporary farmhand
22 February 2017 | by (Amersfoort, The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

Saw this at the Berlinale 2017, where it was part of the Panorama section. It all happens within an unusual yet very nice setting of a farm miles from anywhere, showing how a romance develops between young farmer Johnny and a Romanian temporary farm hand. I grew up on a farm myself, and thus welcome seeing people on screen who know how to handle animals, together with demonstrating that farming is not so romantic as many think, but in fact is a 24/7 job under often unaccommodating circumstances, like cattle diseases, uncertain weather and a resisting soil.

The dramatic developments are nicely spread over time. I was happy to see that the story was less predictable than one assumes after having read the synopsis. Unlike in other movies, this time it is not the village people that cause trouble by frowning on gay relationships. Even Johnny's father and grandma don't make a fuss when finding out what is happening between Johnny and Gheorghe. I like these deviations from the usual downtrodden path, and I applaud that this movie introduces new elements. It allows us to follow the interesting route that this relationship takes, in any case not straight from A to B (I use the word "straight" here with hesitation, no pun intended).

An important plot element is that Johnny cannot cope with all the work before him, next to his ailing father who wants things done the way he always did in past years, issuing commands and criticism to that effect, without even considering to drop some parts of the farm or using new techniques that may help alleviate the workload. It is remarkable that Johnny does not stand up against the status quo. Even when halfway the running time the father falls victim to a second stroke, one that does not bode well for his complete recovery, Johnny insists that he "will manage" despite demonstrating that he cannot.

An external trigger event is definitely needed in making very apparent that there is more work than there is time. His father's stroke in combination with Gheorghe's decision to leave due to anticipating problems in his relationship with Johnny, forces a breakthrough. Johnny tells his father that he leaves the farm for a short while (to meet Gheorghe, and to convince him to return), and that he has plans how the farm should be run after his return. He insists that several things must change to start doing things his way, and that he cannot continue at all cost how his father did it in the past.

All the above combined takes care that there are ample developments to keep us awake all the running time. The characters are interesting enough and not made from cardboard, and the turns of events are not caused by the usual interference from the villagers when gay relationships are involved, but come directly from unlucky circumstances and doubtful decisions by the main protagonists.

All in all, next to downplaying the overly popular romantic view on running a farm, this movie also does a good job of introducing a fresh take on gay relationships. Sex is not the main binding element here, nor is resistance from the environment an issue driving them apart. Though not essential for the plot, sightseeing through the landscapes of Yorkshire works as icing on the cake. A minor problem that I have with the plot is that Johnny continues too long on his father's leash, and is very late with allowing extra help or forcing some other way out of the work overload. Even after his father's second stroke, when it becomes abundantly clear that he cannot cope, he still insists that he "will manage". I missed the reasons behind the overdue switch to his new attitude that "things have to change here". Maybe a nitpick on a well-made movie, that has a lot of other things to offer, making it a worthwhile watch anyway.


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