Life on a farm sucks. Your dad thinks you’re a lazy incompetent pussy and your mom is pushed over. You see animals die all the damn time, and you can’t even be youself in public. Or, at least that’s how it seems to big dicked Johnny Saxby, who sees life in a world of miserable blues and greys while fucking random animal dealers in the bathroom. Johnny is a lazy slacker millennial-type who can’t build a stone fence, can’t tell when a cow is going to have a stillborn calf, and hates not being able to fuck out in the open. We meet him vomiting in the morning after a hard night of drinking leaves him severely hungover and useless on his family farm. It goes downhill from there.
Enter Gheorghe Ionescu, a Romanian migrant worker who seems competent and compassionate in all the ways that Johnny is incompetent and miserable. Where Johnny struggles to see nature in anything, Gheorghe can handle herding the flock of sheep with a superhuman intuition. Because of his natural ease in all things farming, Johnny’s father takes a shining to Gheorghe, giving him more responsibilities than he entrusts to Johnny, whose lust and resentment somehow sparks a mud-and-sheep-shit-encrusted sex scene leading to a domestic relationship between the kind-hearted and the cold-hearted. Get it? Johnny is a wild animal, like the sheep, and Gheorghe has to tame him with his compassionate intuition. We do love our fixer-upper projects, right girls? Of course, gay romantic drama complications ensue.
I SUPPOSE your appreciation of this film may hinge on how much you are attracted to, can relate to, or actually like the lead characters. After all, Josh O’Connor is willing to go full frontal for his portrayal of an insufferably self-hating brat of a boy whose misery and unhappiness stems from his inability to stand up for himself. Because he doesn’t care about anything, he lets everybody roll right over him; of course, he’s the brutal uncaring top in his sexual relationships. In short, Johnny is an insensitive jerk who deserves to die alone. By contrast, Alec Secareanu’s Gheorghe is sensitive but strong…and, if we’re being real, totally deserves somebody better than Johnny. Gheorghe needs to run away from Johnny and find somebody who will appreciate his ruggedly good looks and positivity. I mean, that’s what he should do, but lord knows that some of these power bottoms are addicted to those big dicks no matter how big of a dick the guy attached to it actually is.
In more ways than one, God’s Own Country is Brokeback Mountain 2 with more sex, nudity, and animal skinnings. Though only set over a single year, God’s Own Country is about emotionally stunted young men who find solace in outdoor banging while they’re watching over a herd of livestock. Society is oh so cruel because it oppresses them, except it kind of doesn’t, except it does…maybe. This misery is emphasized by gritty blue-filtered handheld camerawork that practically hates its own medium. Though the plot is Terence Davies-esque misery porn, God’s Own Country lacks all of his daring formalism that elevates those films into…well…I don’t like his movies either, but at least I like looking at them.
I spent this movie’s 100 minute run time wondering why the fuck I should care about any of this shit. Why am I watching a miserable fuckhead score a nice and decent hotty who could do so much better? Why did I feel the need to rescue Gheorghe from the oppressive environment and relationship? I know, on a subconscious level, that this type of miserable oppressed gay white boy lead character is crack for romance novel addicts. If this were a book, the cover would have a muscled shirtless guy in leather britches ripping open the dress shirt of a farmhand. The inherent message is, as usual, us sensitive readers can save these self-hating hunks with our love and vaginas/buttholes. If you’re craving that type of gay romance where miserable boys fall in love after explicitly fucking in mud and skinning dead baby animals, this is the movie for you.