This has to be one of the films of the year. Certainly one of the most striking.

Francis Lee’s new film is set in the deep country in the IJK. Elderly couple Martin and Deidre Saxby own a large, sprawling country property which, as they become increasingly frail, are finding it harder and harder to maintain.

Their twenties something son Johnny, who  they are hoping will take on more responsibility, is a big problem. He is uncommunicative, withdrawn, and  has taken to the bottle in a big way. When he has tasks to do around the farm he labours over them grudgingly.

He spends most nights going to the local getting smashed, and when he comes home he literally falls out of his trailer. As well as resenting the responsibilities of being the future heir to the property, he is also battling dealing with being gay.

Things take a turn when Johnny’s parents take on a young itinerant worker  from Afghanistan, Gheorge to do a few weeks work on the farm. Gheorge is set up in  a caravan outside the family home.

At first, Johnny is deeply resentful of yet another person around the house.  They, however, have to hang around each other for work. Whereas Johnny is callous in his treatment of the sheep, Gheorge is compassionate with them and gets better results. Sheep that would have died at birth at Johnny’s hands, get a chance at life with Gheorge. Johnny notices his sensitivity, something he is bereft of. There is a physical attraction exists between them. The inevitable happens…

There is a lot to GOD’S OWN COUNTRY – It’s a memorable love story…the writing, the direction, the performances, the cinematography are exquisite…It’s a great story about the land – the interactions between man, the rugged land, the vulnerable animals that they tend (the scenes are hard to watch but  so strong). The sex scenes are torrid but no more than in straight films. 

Most of all this is Johnny’s story. He goes on quite a journey. At the beginning he is an emotional cripple, unable to express himself or communicate his needs. By journey’s end he has reached a much healthier place. He can say how he feels, he can give and receive love.

This film was a revelation. THere was so much heart to it. Highly recommended, GOD’S OWN COUNTRY is currently screening at Palace Verona cinema and Dendy Newtown.