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  WINDY CITY TIMES

FILM REVIEW God's Own Country
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2018-01-24

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Director: Francis Lee

Starring: Josh O'Connor, Gemma Jones, Alec Secareanu. Time: 104 minutes/ Release Date: Jan. 26-Feb. 1 at Siskel Film Center

On a quiet Yorkshire farm, a mysterious Romanian worker moves in with a family and changes lives. Will the farmhand's son, Johnny Saxby, grow up enough to take control of his life? We shall see in a movie that really takes its time with the unfolding of the story that could actually take place in a variety of time periods.

Filmmaker Francis Lee was born on a farm in West Yorkshire and shot the film down the road from the place he grew up. His decision to move away from that fame was the inspiration for God's Own Country. This makes the material very personal along with the graphically real animal scenes without special effects. Josh O'Connor and Alec Secareanu had to work at a farm for two weeks prior to shooting this movie to prepare for their roles. It all pays off with such realism that was shot on a hand held camera by Joshua James Richards. It is, at times, gritty and shows the difficult, but tender, parts of life.

Compared to Brokeback Mountain by some, this film is, in many ways, superior and really not that similar. Not having big names in the picture is in keeping with the realistic theme, and it works.

These actors certainly have their charms, with O'Connor ( who resembles Nick Jonas ) and Secareanu. Throw a little salt in the mix and you have a recipe for love.

Instead of being a coming-out film, God's Own Country is about the ugly parts of life and what people don't say in the moment. There are many people that continue to not live out their truthful lives in remote places of the world such as this, and that in itself will pull at the heart strings.

The accents can be a bit thick and there is a bleak feeling. While the piece might not be for everyone, overall the film is a fresh take on a farm story.

While everyone is rushing out to see Call Me By Your Name, this other gay-themed tearjerker should also not be missed.

Having only limited release in 2017, such as at the Chicago International Film Festival, the Gene Siskel Film Center provides another chance to view this film.


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