Edinburgh International Film Festival opened last night with a showing of Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country, trailed as a gay love story set in the Yorkshire Pennines. Northern bucolic gay, if you like, or “British Brokeback…”
It was good, if a bit of a stretch. The protagonist, Johnny, played by Josh O’Connor, is trying to run his father’s farm single-handed, the father having suffered a stroke which makes him unable to work. They get in a Romanian migrant, Gheorghe, to help out, who proves much more useful than Johnny at all the farm tasks, because Johnny seems to go to the pub and get bladdered every night. He also seems unable to go the pub toilet or a café without him having casual sex, so he’s got a lot on his plate as well as running the farm.
Predictably enough, when Johnny and Gheorghe camp out on the farm to fix a wall, it all kicks off for them in the erotic charge of the freezing Pennines and a diet of Pot Noodles. The sight of Gheorghe having a slash in the dawn is just to much for our hero.
The resolution is that the pair eventually agree to run Johnny’s dad’s farm together, with his blessing. The closing shot is the couple going into the farmhouse, presumably to choose curtains.
So; a bit of a stretch. The much vaunted views of the Pennines are not that great either, there is a city in the background in quite a lot of shots (maybe Bradford, the film was shot in Keighley.)
The acting performances are all good, especially Ian Hart (he’s played John Lennon on screen twice!) who plays Johnny’s disabled father. It was also nice to see Patsy Ferran pop up, I enjoyed her as Portia in the RSC’s The Merchant of Venice – it’s just a shame her character seemed a little irrelevant to the story.
There are a couple of cute lambs as well, but none as scene-stealing as this guy upstaging Julie Christie in Far From The Madding Crowd. This picture never fails to make me smile.