This post was written by Colin Free on September 29, 2017
This low budget British film has caused a bit of a stir and has garnered a lot of praise. I have some reservations but generally will add to the plaudits.
In Yorkshire, young Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor) lives and works on a farm with his father (Ian Hart) who has recently suffered a stroke and his grandmother (Gemma Jones). Needing an extra pair of hands, they hire a Romanian immigrant Gheorghe (Alec Secareneu). Johnny is gay but has kept his sexuality secret but he starts a relationship with Gheorghe.
In the early stages of their romance, I struggled to buy them as a couple or invest too much into it because of Johnny’s truculent behaviour. But, the changes to his behaviour are depicted subtly and realistically by writer/director Francis Lee. The authentic performances from the two leads help and you see Johnny mature before your eyes. The more experienced actors give superb performances too, especially Jones who is able to convey so much with just a look or a sigh.
Despite the unusual setting and the grimly authentic look at life on a farm, the story follows the standard romantic plot trajectory: two people meet, don’t get on at first but fall for each other and are happy until one of them screws-up causing a break-up. The guilty party has to make a grand gesture to win their love back. I also felt that some of the scenes early in the film were largely included for shock value.
However, on the whole, this is an impressive debut feature from Lee.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10