Johnny Saxby is running his family farm pretty much single-highhandedly. His father’s illness means he can’t help out, although he can still point out what needs doing. His mother left a long time ago. It’s just him, his father, and his nan living an isolated life in Yorkshire. He spends his day looking after the “beasts”, cleaning up after the beasts, and working hard. And at night he drinks hard, it seems to be a regular occurrence for him to drink himself in to oblivion. That’s what he feels he has to do in order to “get on with things”.
He doesn’t seem to have anyone in his life that he can talk to, his interactions with people outside the family are relegated to quick, casual sex in trailers or toilets. And considering he doesn’t really talk to his family it is almost a silent life.
But it is lambing season, and the farm needs another body, despite what Johnny thinks. So his father has arranged for a labourer to come help out. Resentful and sullen at first Johnny and Gheorghe soon develop an intense relationship.
It’d be a terrible thing for me to describe this film as Brokeback Mountain in Yorkshire, so I won’t, although that is the first thing I thought of when I heard it was about gay sheep farmers in Britain. It is a very different film1 even if they do share a similar one line synopsis. But then again, all romances probably sound the same if you reduce them to one line and yet there is a huge variation among them.
God’s Own Country is a really good film.
It is slow and huge parts of it are without dialogue, especially if you don’t count monosyllabic grunts as dialogue, and yet it gets so much across. The damage that has been done to Johnny’s life by his family’s desire to just get on with things, to work and not talk about their problems. There is always some job that needs doing, some task that can work as a distraction. It is the “stiff upper lip” in it’s Yorkshire variation. DOn’t talk about what’s bothering you, don’t acknowledge it at all, simply keep on keeping on.
But they are still a family, and you can see that they all do care for one another, they just lack the communication skills to express themselves.
It is also a beautiful film, while the life of Johnny does come across as grim and unrelenting, it is also beautiful and haunting. And this is something that Gheorghe helps him to understand.
It’s a really good film and I’d urge you to see it.
even though I haven’t seen Brokeback in years, so my memory is fairly fuzzy ↩