Yorkshire farmer Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor) has a rough exterior that could be intimidating to others. He’s certainly aware of this power as he reflects his standoff attitude to anyone who criticizes him. But, Johnny is also a closeted gay man, distancing himself with personal conflict and confrontations. He acts on sexual desires with casual flings, but his romantic interests remain indifferent. That is, until he meets a migrant worker named Gheorghe (Alex Secareanu).
God’s Own Country, an acclaimed directorial debut from Francis Lee, follows the hard-headed relationship between Johnny and Gheorghe as it develops into a passionate, complicated romance. Lee, who works with a self-penned script, moves too fast with the men’s curiosities, but the relationship is convincing due to the strong performances by O’Connor and Secareanu.
However, the film’s main problems stem from amateur moves by its writer/director. Lee, an actor himself, knows how to motivate his cast, but his writing feels too close to a template that’s going through repetitive motions of a typical love story. It’s an emotional film with very few surprises.
Above all, God’s Own Country is still an effective film that its actors successfully carry.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie