This feature debut from director Francis Lee is quite remarkable.
John (Josh O’Connor) is an angry young man for the 21st century – isolated, trapped, lacking in a means for self-expression. Then Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) enters his life and forces him to rethink everything. Perhaps Gheorghe verges on manic pixie dream boy, but this I am prepared to forgive in an otherwise flawless film.
Gemma Jones and Ian Hart as John’s family are perfect, with Hart in particular capturing the loss of dignity and the fear which takes over when we become physically incapacitated. It’s all in his eyes.
O’Connor and Secareanu clearly spent a lot of time on farms before filming – to this city girl (albeit with farming forebears) the two certainly seem to know their way around a new-born lamb or the rear end of a cow. And Lee has captured the atmosphere of farmland in this part of Yorkshire – beautiful and brutal.
I was most impressed with O’Connor’s performance – John’s evolution from angry, lonely young man to where he ends up is beautifully nuanced, and heart-breaking.