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God’s Own Country

 

I think I saw nine feature films plus some shorts at this year’s Provincetown International Film Festival in June—and an excellent bunch of movies it was. This is not a gay-themed festival, but—this being P’town—a healthy proportion (a third?) of the films on offer had an LGBT-theme. I saw four films in that genre that I’d like to bring to your attention – the first of which is below.

But first, two disconnected observations about these films, and those at past festivals, as a whole: 1) People smoke lot more in indie movies than they do in real life. 2) Comedy is hard. There’s not much of it at indie film festivals, and when it does materialize, it isn’t very funny. 3) There are so many production companies involved in the making of these films, I’ve given up trying to list them all.

 

God’s Own Country
Directed by Francis Lee

 

The Yorkshire dialect is so thick that I understood about half of the dialogue (subtitles would have helped), but it didn’t matter. There wasn’t much of it anyway, as this film is about two taciturn young men who have a job to do, birthing ewes, mending stone walls, making camp together at night. Inevitably, God’s Own Country has been compared to Brokeback Mountain, another film about two men engaged in physical labor far from the madding crowd. In the English version, Johnny and George are sheep farmers, the former the farm owner’s son, the latter a Romanian man who’s come to help during birthing season while escaping a homeland that’s “dead.” (The film appears to be set in the recent past—no computers or cell phones, but this is rural England.) The two men show no outward signs of “gayness” and seem to have few reference points for connecting to it themselves; they call each other “faggot” once their shared secret is out. We would call this “internalized homophobia,” but for them it seems to be the only word they have for themselves, uttered with an embarrassed grin. As in Brokeback Mountain, the men fall in love in spite of themselves, resisting their feelings for as long as they can, so their love seems even more authentic when it finally breaks out. This indeed is the most trustworthy kind of love, one that arises against all odds and endures society’s moan.

To Be Continued.

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