*** (out of 4)
In recent months, people have taken to calling Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country a “British Brokeback Mountain.” And in all honesty, it’s not hard to see why. Like Ennis del Mar, God’s protagonist, a 20-something-year-old named Johnny (Josh O’Connor), is a gay, emotionally repressed farmworker who has a deep-rooted aversion to conversation. Just as Ennis met and fell for Jack, moreover, Johnny eventually strikes up a relationship with Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), a Romanian migrant worker who comes to work on the livestock farm run by Johnny and his parents (Ian Hart, Gemma Jones). And most significantly, both Brokeback and God’s take place in an environment where civilization is all but nonexistent: the former set Ennis and Jack’s story in the middle of Wyoming, while Johnny and Gheorghe’s romance unfolds against the hilly landscape of rural Yorkshire.
These surface similarities, however, belie the vast differences in form and approach that ultimately make God’s a more satisfying experience than Brokeback.