First. Love. Heartbreak.

 

Brian, from The Body’s Heated Speech makes the following comment:

As the comments section on “God’s Own Country” is closed, I hope you won’t mind me posting here.

[Warning: Potential Spoilers]

I can understand why this movie has been compared to “Brokeback Mountain.” But the characters in “God’s Own Country” are more complex. My opinion of them changed as the story went forward. For example, John’s father seemed a controlling bastard at first, but later I felt he was just struggling to feel in control as his body and mind failed him.

GOC is a world of mud and piss and afterbirth and near-poverty. How anyone could practice such gentleness there, how anyone could teach the difference between sex and love there, is the triumph of this movie.

I admire the metaphor of the dead lamb’s skin being fitted to the motherless lamb, which is then echoed in the sweater John pulls over himself later. There’s a similarity to the two shirts in Brokeback, though this is even deeper in its suggestion.

One question: at the end, we see a car driving away with the trailer. Did John’s parents leave the farm, or do you think the trailer was just no longer needed because Gheorghe was staying on permanently?

Oh, and I’d take a kiss from Alec Secareanu any day.

Yes. Yes. And Yes!

I’m so glad you liked this film. And you’re right: God’s Own Country‘s characters are more complex, more real in my opinion, than those of Brokeback Mountain. Perhaps that is because God’s Own Country is more explicit and Brokeback more nuanced in the telling. Years ago, before Brokeback made it to the screen, I read Annie Proulx’s story in the New Yorker and I was affected by the telling and language used to tell the tale. Proulx’s is a nuanced story, much like the film, that tells more by what it doesn’t say overtly but leaves to the reader’s imagination. Years later, when Ang Lee directed the film, he captured the spirit of the novella using images that captivated but left the intimacy of the love between two men to the audience’s imagination. This, given the time, politics, and country Brokeback Mountain appeared in, was as explicit as a major commercial movie studio would allow itself to release — even when the film first appeared in limited release. It is almost comical now, years later, that we regard Brokeback Mountain as dated, when television shows and recent films such as God’s Own Country portray gay men and their relationships with confident, open, and explicit stories and scenes.

I agree with your observations regarding God’s Own Country, especially when you say: “How anyone could practice such gentleness there, how anyone could teach the difference between sex and love there, is the triumph of this movie.”

My interpretation of the final scene in the movie is that the trailer is taken away because Gheorghe has moved into the house with Johnny and is now part of the family/farm. To me that was made evident with Gheorghe’s final embrace of Johnny before they both walk into the house and the screen fades to black. A much better, happier, and optimistic ending than Brokeback’s for sure, and one E. M. Forster would have certainly embraced.

Now that you’ve seen God’s Own Country, I more than recommend the recent Academy Award nominated film, Call Me By Your Name. Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name is a film adaptation of André Aciman’s excellent novel by the same name. The novel was adapted to the screen by James Ivory, known for his period film adaptations of E. M. Forster’s novels: A Room With A View, Maurice, and Howard’s End.

Call Me

Call Me By Your Name is the coming of age story of a seventeen year old boy named Elio. The story is set in Northern Italy and takes place in the early part of the 1980s. The film chronicles the romantic relationship between Elio and his father’s 24-year-old American assistant, Oliver, who spends a summer with Elio’s family at their Italian villa. What follows is a story of self-discovery, first love, and heartbreak.

Calm Me By Your Name, just like God’s Own Country, is a meditation on love and sexual awakening. This is a slow, pastoral story that takes its time telling its tale — but any patient viewer will be deeply rewarded by the last frame of the film as he follows Elio’s coming of age. The story is told in beautiful pastels, sun-drenched scenes, and gardens typical of an Italian villa. If you squint your eyes, you half expect the characters of A Room With a View to make a cameo appearance in the film, but this story is set in a time where Victorian mores have been left in the past and a new cast of players has come to Italy to experience what romance and eros previous visitors have come to expect from the landscape.

The real star of the film is Timothée Chalamet. His portrayal of Elio is spot-on and exhilarating to watch. Chalamet’s portrayal of a teen boy awakening to his sexual desires is both familiar and compelling. The first half of the film centers on him, giving us an intimate and private glimpse of a boy wrestling with unvoiced feelings and desires. With the arrival of the “ursuper,” Elio’s sexual awakening is unleashed and what ensues is a feast for the eyes and senses. Ivory has written a screenplay not every actor would be suitable to play, but Chalamet takes the role and runs with it, giving exactly the type of performance that earned him the well deserved Academy Award nomination.

Armie Hammer is just as wonderful in this film as Chalamet. As the American student visiting for the summer, he plays the catalyst that launches Elio into his journey of sexual awakening. Hammer is as adroit in his role as Chalamet, but if the first half of the story belongs to Eliot, the second half belongs to Oliver; here is where we finally get a grip on his character’s aloofness and feelings. When the two finally come together the viewer is rewarded and feels a sense of relief at the release of the sexual tension the two characters generate between them. WIth their first kiss, the foreplay is finally over and the union of both men becomes the central theme of the story.

Much has been written about Call Me By Your Name’s sensuality and sexuality, but what everyone agrees on is the pathos and sentiment expressed in the film’s Coda. There is a marvelous, compassionate, and touching two-minute scene near the end where Elio’s father gives the young man a talk that makes every man I know cry and long for a similar talk with his father. I have never read, seen, or heard such a fine and touching talk from a father to his son. It is so beautiful, and moving, the film is worth watching only for those two minutes of dialogue. Do not skip or fast-forward to the scene. It will not have the same impact if you don’t take Elio’s journey with him, or remind yourself of what it was like to be seventeen and have the same longings and confusion a teenage boy had as he moves into adulthood. Elio’s journey is the pleasure of this film — with all its frustrations, joys, humor, erections, and heartbreak.

Call Me By Your Name is a complementary piece to God’s Own Country and the reason for Brokeback Mountain. Each, in its own way, tells the same story from different points of view, and none are the lesser for it. I do hope you get to watch it, if you haven’t already. It is the perfect film for a coming spring awakening.