Review / ‘God’s Own Country’ (MA) ***

AFTER a substantial acting career in some favourite British TV series, and writing and directing short films, Francis Lee has entered into the real world of writing and directing with this feature debut.

On a Yorkshire farm where the weather is bleak and the work demanding, Deidre (Gemma Jones) and Martin (Ian Hart) and their son Johnny eke out a tough existence. Partially disabled Martin assigns farming tasks until he has a stroke. Keeping house doesn’t fill Deidre’s life with fun. Johnny spends his money at the pub and has perfunctory sex wherever he can get it.

Martin employs Romanian farm-hand Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) to help during lambing season. The development of a relationship between him and Johnny is intercut with sequences frankly depicting less-than-delicate farming tasks – preg testing a cow; skinning a stillborn lamb to make a jacket for an orphan lamb so the ewe will allow it to suckle; mucking out sheds and paddocks.

Nor does Lee shrink from frank treatment of the core element of his film’s plot. For Johnny is comfortably gay whose attention Gheorghe is prepared to accept. The film treats those passages without compromise. And with delicacy that stops just short of an X-rating.

At Palace Electric and Dendy

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