How do you review a film that leaves you speechless? I'll try my best for this magnificent film recently shown at the Sydney Film Festival to two sellout screenings.
Rarely does a film do such an amazing job at saying so much with so little script. There were probably only 100 lines of dialog but the film conveyed feelings that would be hard to convey in a 500 page book. The cinematography easily filled the gap as the actors executed their craft to perfection. The movie pulled me in and I was totally mesmerized by the story. It was so genuine that you felt as if you were there with them.
Johnny Saxby (played by Josh O'Connor) is stuck in a life of isolation and debilitating loneliness on a Yorkshire sheep farm. His father Martin (Ian Hart) is sick and no longer able to contribute any meaningful labor to help on the farm. The grandmother (Gemma Jones) does everything she can to care for her ailing son Martin while trying to keep her grandson Johnny from going completely off the rails. When lambing season starts Johnny is incapable of handling the workload on his own. To fill the gap the family hire a short term farmhand (Alex Secareanu) to assist Johnny with the work. A visceral "tug of war" starts immediately between the two men in every area of their lives: physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual. It is indescribable and can only be experienced by watching the film. I've never seen it done so well. It is amazing to see a production unfold where the screenplay, cinematography, acting, and landscape conspire so perfectly to tell a story. This is a movie for any adult - regardless of personal attributes or orientation - and captures what it means to be human.
This film is storytelling unbridled. Hiding nothing, the audience was treated with intellectual respect, and there was not a pandering moment to be seen. Regardless of who or what you are, this film will stir up emotions you had forgotten you even had. I highly recommend this rare and special film.