Touted as a British version of Brokeback Mountain this is much more visceral, stark and intense by comparison. Set in Yorkshire, England, the story centres on a young adult man, Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor) who lives on a desolate, chronically misty farm with his parents, Deidre (Gemma Jones) and Martin (Ian Hart). With his father reliant on a walking stick, Johnny is charged with most of the muddy, bloody, callous building work around the farm. His only respite is getting drunk and having covert casual sex with men in the small village.
When a handsome, sensitive migrant worker, Gheorghe (Alec Scareanu) is hired to help out on the farm the mutual sexual attraction between the two men leads to emotions that challenge Johnny’s efforts to remain sentimentally aloof.
This film by director, Francis Lee, unfolds at a painstakingly slow pace with documentary level detail, immersing its audience in the grit, grub and gore of a harsh, Northern English farm. It is minimalist and raw with vivid, graphic sex scenes and realistic depictions of animal husbandry – and that makes it thoroughly engrossing.
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich