The opening film of the Edinburgh Film Festival presents the cold, un-glamorous and brutal environment of the Yorkshire pennines as the backdrop for a romance between two men who work on a farm. One of the first things to note about this film is how the two men interact with each other. The relationship does not feel romantic, but there is certainly a lot of understated emotion. Francis Lee does a good job of crafting the harsh and unsympathetic world the characters live, which creates an understanding of their desperate, self destructing methods of escapism. The performances from the main two leads Josh O'Connor and Alex Secareanu are the highlight of the film, their performances felt natural and powerfully portrayed characters who don't have emotional outlets, if in the hands of another director or other actors the performances could of easily been hammy or over emotional.
For the first half of the film I was taken aback by how gritty and realistic the film presented it's characters and the how the film explored the theme of love without emotion as the characters felt vulnerable sharing there emotions not just to everyone else, but each other as well, unfortunately the second half of the film falls into a predictable pit as each act feels like it's rushing to get to the next, for a film with an unconventional start it was frustrating to see it conform into a heightened romantic drama that feels repetitive all too often.
Overall God's Own Country is a thoughtful study of an understated relationship through a cold and foreboding environment, but the film cannot be saved from it's cliche story and it's repetitive narrative.