Some weeks on the blog are for ladies roadtripping with the ashes of their deceased bff. Others are for murderous dudes dressed as Santa Claus. This week is for ripping our hearts out for 90+ minutes and watching them slowly cease beating.
God’s Own Country
Yorkshire. Rolling hills. Sheep. Homophobes who sound like Sean Bean. Maybe not the best place to be a closeted young farmer.
Oof, Johnny is leading a bleak life on the family farm in Yorkshire. Having watched his friends leave for university and bright futures, Johnny is bitter about staying at home, tending to the farm and to his father, who has recently suffered a stroke. Trying to stop feeling anything, Johnny is a regular at the local pub and really overdoes it quite often. Like, reeeeeeeeeeally overdoes it. Occasionally hooking up with other men, Johnny makes it clear he’s not interested in an emotional connection.
As a result of the stroke, the family has had trouble managing the farm and hires a temporary employee to help out. The only applicant is a Romanian man named Gheorghe, who Johnny grumpily picks up from the station.
Since Johnny’s father is constantly on his case, Gheorghe overhears quite a few heated discussions but quietly goes about his work. Though dispassionate about his work, Gheorghe has a soft spot, going out of his way to save and care for a lamb who is a runt of the litter. He is annoyingly good at everything and looks both comfy and stylish in knitted sweaters, only further fueling Johnny’s grudge against him.
Things are unlikely to go well when Johnny and Gheorghe must camp out at the far end of the farm to repair a fence. It all reaches a boiling point when Johnny refuses to stop calling Gheorghe a gypsy despite his objections, though what begins as a fight becomes an almost literal roll in the hay.
Later, Gheorghe and Johnny share a super tender evening and become closer. Johnny reveals his mother left when he was very young, and has since lived with his emotionally distant father and grandmother.
Unfortunately, it all goes downhill quickly when Johnny’s father suffers another stroke and is hospitalized. Gheorghe very sweetly cares for Johnny, making him pasta and special sheep’s milk cheese. While Gheorghe agrees to stay on for more time to help with the farm, Johnny asks Gheorghe to stay indefinitely…and perhaps forever?
Gheorghe decides to break Johnny’s heart (and my heart and the heart of everyone watching this film who isn’t made of stone) by leaving–he’s been burned before and doesn’t believe things would work out if he stayed.
Though devastated, life goes on as Johnny’s father returns home from the hospital more dependent on his son than ever. Johnny begins to wordlessly take responsibility for his father’s care and for the upkeep of the farm, bringing the two closer together. However, the farm needs more help–and Johnny needs a cuddle from a certain sweater-wearing Romanian. Johnny sets out to find Gheorghe and bring him home…but does Gheorghe even want to be found?
4.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
I don’t know how to rate this because the more I think about it, the more I like it. It’s deceptively quiet and no-frills, but holds an aching beauty–much like its characters and the land itself. There’s a power to the desolate landscape and a sense of endurance. I have so many stills for this post because the scenes are gorgeously moody.
Much remains unspoken between the characters, leaving a lot of room for looks, gestures, and the few words they do exchange to carry great meaning. The scenes Johnny shares with his father (who is even more sparing with words after the 2nd stroke) towards the end of the film are especially lovely.
It’s also wonderful to see the transformation of Johnny, who is understandably but still an annoyingly whiny asshole when the film starts. Gheorghe is so beautifully layered, caring for the runt lamb tenderly yet rather impassively skinning a lamb so it can have a coat to keep it warm. How…sweet?
The moral of the story here is if you make food for your partner, I will remain invested in your love.