God's Own Country

God's Own Country ★★★★★

Nothing like two dudes sitting in a haystack with their dicks out.

God's Own Country satisfied every cinematic and emotional desire of mine that Brokeback Mountain left cold. That film was one about repression and shame, and two men who were only able to find happiness by bringing pain to others. They couldn't express themselves, yet somehow and irrationally were able to fall in love. As soon as I was able to look past the lack of realism and actually root for their love, I was confronted by horrific, violent images and misery. This film does not manipulate the viewer in such a way. Rather than telling a tale of repressed gay people who suffer inside and out, we get to see these once gruff men become soft and find peace with love in their hearts. They still don't really know how to communicate, but they're trying, and they're doing so together.

The sex is rough and dirty, but more than anything, it's honest. I loved that there was no attempt to glamorize what we were seeing. Anal sex in a bathroom stall without lube doesn't sound like a good time, so it shouldn't look like one either. However, in that griminess, there's a real sense of desperation and intense sexual desire, and that is where the intimacy comes in. What we're seeing may not be sexy, and it may not even feel good, but damn, are these characters into it.

Dirt and grass make up the landscape of this film, and those natural elements are expertly woven into the direction itself. We have these powerful, angry feelings inside us and we don't know how to manifest them. Intimate cinematography captures the space well, but rather than operating in wide-shots, we're right next to the characters' faces and hands the whole time. We live life with them, rather than observing passively. The landscape becomes a tool of storytelling, one so skillful that even the ambient sounds feel heavy with emotion. Nature is always loud, even in moments when we are quiet.

I loved everything I got here, and I loved how so much of it existed only in my peripheral vision. The struggles of familial obligation, agrarian life, prejudice and weakness all circle around our characters and the spaces they inhabit. I never thought watching a sheep being born could be lovely, yet here, it really was. Blood and death are both a part of life, and there's something so calming about seeing nature presented with this level of authenticity. I may have needed subtitles to understand what these men were saying, but I loved listening to them talk. I really hope more people get to see this.

Rating: 93/100

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