God’s Own Country Francis Lee (UK 2017)

God’s Own Country Francis Lee (UK 2017)

God’s Own Country Francis Lee (UK 2017) Josh O’Connor, Alec Secareanu

viewed Tyneside Cinema 5 Sept
2017; ticket £9.75

pot noodle country

Francis Lee has taken a couple of leaves
(and then some) out of the present day lexicon of film making cliches.

As in Park’s 2016 movie the
Handmaiden, so God’s Own Country is
bulked out with extended longueurs of body flesh shots. As in Park’s movie so in Lee’s the long sex
act sequences have little purpose other than permitting the camera and editor
to help the producer fulfill their durational contracts. Without use of critical intelligence cinema
reduces sex to a banality, a series of fabrications: faked gestures, faked grunts and whimpers, a carnality played
out to the camera as it creeps and crawls round the body and body parts, driven
at best by the illusion that the shots are transgressive, (which they are not)
and at worst by a plea for audience indulgence.

Lee’s film is also chocka full of
dreaded landscape cliches. These are much
loved by filmmakers such as Terrance Mallick and his myriad imitators who
evince the specious belief that landscape in itself means something. That by cutting to landscape you can invoke
for the audience a range of existential emotions that express the unsayable. This is of course a wonderful solution for
the feckless and lazy film maker who can order the camera to be pointed at a lone
tree on the moor, a cloud closed sky or a rough sea and hope they get away with
the suggestion of some deeper meaning. Time was when film makers filmed trains
entering tunnels at high speed as a metaphore for penetrative sex. (only Woody
Allan can get away with this type of thing)
Employing ‘scape shots have the same level of originality and the same misguided
opportunism; and also at this point only a Woody allen can get away with it.

Viewing God’s Own Country despite all
its sheep shots, the general level of the acting resembles a group of misplaced
thespians stuck out in a field and asked to improvise. Inevitable that the most
actors can achieve in such situations is a groping after stereotypes. Lee’s simulation of cold comfort farm, his
simulation of the stroke afflicted farmer,
his simulation of sex, never rise above the level of the mundane
mis-representation.

The script is wooden occassionally
and hilariously giving the the poor Gheorghe lines such as: “In my country spring is so beautiful.” There are other lines from the other actors
that match this level of banality. Perhaps because the actors are so insecure
in their Yorkie dialect, they often swallow mutter mangle their lines
incomprehensivly. It doeon’t matter: they
have nothing to say.

I
suppose that God’s Own Country is supposed to be a tale of the redemptive power
of gender identity honesty. The coming out and embracing your self’s sexuality. The trouble is that Lee’s film is simplistic
and smug and dull. God’s own Country is
to sex and relationships what Pot
Noddles are to food. And besides pissing
shots and sheeps backsides shots, there
are a lot of pot needles in this movie.
Adrin Neatrour adrinuk@yahoo.co.uk

Author: Adrin Neatrour

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