Review: God's Own Country is bleak but moving

God's Own Country (15)  

Rating:

The Yorkshire drama tells the story of a migrant labourer developing an intense emottional relationship with a farmer during lambing season

The Yorkshire drama tells the story of a migrant labourer developing an intense emottional relationship with a farmer during lambing season

The divine country of the title is a bleakly beautiful stretch of West Yorkshire, where Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor) works on the family sheep farm. Times would be hard even if his father (Ian Hart) hadn’t been crippled by a stroke.

As Johnny’s long-suffering grandmother, Gemma Jones has a role about as far as possible from The Duchess of Duke Street of blessed memory.

Josh O'Connor stars as a worker on the struggling farm, who enlists the help of a migrant, played by Alec Seareanu, seated on the back of the vehicle

Josh O'Connor stars as a worker on the struggling farm, who enlists the help of a migrant, played by Alec Seareanu, seated on the back of the vehicle

It’s another Seventies TV series that springs more readily to mind, however. But despite all the lambing and dry-stone walling, this is emphatically not the Yorkshire of All Creatures Great And Small. It’s more like Brokeback Fell, in fact, as Johnny — whose semi-repressed homosexuality has hitherto found an outlet only in rough no-strings encounters (including one at a cattle auction, of all places) — falls for Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), a dishy Romanian farm labourer hired by the Saxbys for lambing season.

Until he meets Gheorghe, Johnny is a mess; scarcely able to communicate with his family, drinking too much, and alienating even the few local friends he has with his chippy self-pity.

At first, he is no less obnoxious with Gheorghe, referring to him as ‘gyppo’. When Gheorghe snaps and knocks Johnny to the ground, physical contact is established.

A sexual relationship builds between the men as they grow closer working together on the farm

A sexual relationship builds between the men as they grow closer working together on the farm

Soon, a sexual relationship develops, but Gheorghe teaches Johnny that sex doesn’t have to be urgent and convulsive.

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