Tag Archives: Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab 2018

Love (Film) Review

Love: or What the fuck did you expect, Murphy?

This week’s pick has a very high opinion of itself which at least makes one of us. It is definitely NSFW, not that you’d be watching French-Belgian art house at your place of work but you know what I mean: lots of private parts and shagging. You have been warned.

*Spoilers*

Love (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

Murphy is an American living in Paris who enters a highly sexually and emotionally charged relationship with the unstable Electra. Unaware of the effect it will have on their relationship, they invite their pretty neighbor into their bed.

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My Review

Murphy and Electra (Karl Glusman and Aomi Muyock) are a highly-sexed couple. He is an American film student, while Electra is some sort of artist (who never seems to do any art but who am I to judge?). Their relationship is rather turbulent if truth be told but we don’t explore that until after they’ve broken up.

When we first meet Murphy he is living with his wife Omi (Klara Kristin) and their new baby. Murphy receives an email from Electra’s mother who tells him that she hasn’t seen her daughter for months. Presumed missing, this sends old Murphy into a tailspin as he contacts their old friends to try to locate his ex – while reminiscing about the love they let get away.

Via non-linear flashback we learn that the couple asked their then neighbour Omi to join them for a cheeky threesome, only for Murphy to get her pregnant behind Electra’s back after their original night together. This causes the break up of the relationship and although it’s not easy to follow the timeline, leads Electra deeper into the world of drugs.

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Their love affair has already proven over-dramatic, rife with infidelity, drug abuse and fighting but it has also been rooted in a sort of love, an idealistic ride-or-die mentality that does not ring true in the end. Murphy fucks strangers at parties (which gets confusing because he has a penchant for attractive dark-haired Europeans) while Electra is unfaithful with her sugar-daddy ex.

They talk about having babies and dying without each other but can’t seem to get it together to be kind to one another. Murphy screams insults at his lover while she spirals out of control on drugs and lord knows what.

In present day, Murphy longs to go back to a ‘better’ time before he fucked it all up with Electra – and resents Omi and their child, who I think might be called Gaspar? It’s a miserable scene, man as Omi knows only too well that Murphy is pining for his past.

Meanwhile Murphy’s whiny as fuck inner voice calls his wife a bitch for tricking him into family life which just made me want to bash his head in.

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Will Murphy atone for his cavalier attitude towards Electra (and all women really) or will he make the most of his new life with Omi? And will he ever stop being such a grade A fuck boi? I think we all know that answer to that last one.

The problem with Love is that I hated everyone. Even my sympathy for Omi wore paper-thin (something about her pompous Pro-life speech on her first date with the couple sealed that). Murphy is a deeply unlikable guy with such a casual attitude towards the women in his life, realistic maybe for a young student but it doesn’t bode well for his likability factor – I hated him. I hated the way he cheated on his girlfriend, how he spoke to both Electra and Omi, basically everything he did. There’s a scene where he almost has sex with a trans prostitute and I didn’t like his homophobic attitude there either. Like, just fuck off Murphy.

Electra is a complex(ish) creature but there’s not much character development and we never get any answers. As for the erotic elements, it soon becomes tiresome to see so much fucking.

I kept leaving the room for ages and coming back to the same extended scene. I’m no prude but this is trying to be shocking for shocking’s sake and it’s pretty whack. Plus, sex is never that well-lit, I’m sure of it.

This is nowhere close to Gaspar Noé‘s Irreversible, which is a very hard watch but also a heartbreaking look at the after effects of sexual assault on the victim and their relationships.

My Rating

0.5/5. I hated everything about this.

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What did my love think of this one? Did she want to bang its brains out or in with a brick? Find out here.

The Art of Loving (Film) Review

Free for all month and we start June with this biopic of awesome polish gynaecologist Michalina Wislocka, a sex campaigner who rocked the sex lives of polish women forever. My new favourite heroine basically.

*Spoilers*

The Art of Loving. Story of Michalina Wislocka (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

Michalina Wislocka, the most famous and recognized sexologist of communist Poland, fights for the right to publish her book, which will change the sex life of Polish people forever.

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My Review

Michalina Wislocka was a well-respected gynaecologist and massive influence over the sex lives of women living and loving in Poland under communist rule. An activist for sex ed for all, we meet her (played perfectly by Magdalena Boczarskaat the beginning of this biopic as the author of a new book entitled “The Art of Loving”.

Unfortunately, she faces a hell of an opposition from the communist party, the censors and the church because of her frank talk and non-academic way of phrasing things so everyone can understand them. Plus the mostly male objectors just don’t care much about women’s pleasure (who knew?). As she battles to get her tome published, without sacrificing any of its vital content (including the chapter on the female orgasm), we learn how she became the great woman she was.

TAOL takes us from current day (the seventies) back to the birth of Michalina’s forward thinking ways during the war and to her first marriage to a biologist that ended in a long-term love triangle with her best friend Wanda. Wanda is brought into the domestic mix so that Michalina doesn’t have to shag her husband, whom she loves dearly but doesn’t fancy (or rather, she finds sex painful). The relationship comes to a head (pnar) many years and two children (by different mums) later when her husband decides he loves Wanda and Wanda angrily demands the right to be loved too.

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Following the bust up of her family life, Michalina throws herself into her work and research and this eventually brings her to meet a new lover. Sex becomes a thing of pure joy and opens up a whole new world to our heroine. While the relationship is ultimately doomed from the start, it’s valuable lessons certainly contribute to Micalina’s success.

Will she get this damn book published and see it reprinted a further billion times* in her lifetime?

I really enjoyed this film, which marries serious subject matter with a wry sense of humour. Boczarska is magnificent as Michalina. She plays her part with relish and is completely believable as a warrior for women’s sex rights. It’s also poignant as fuck when she finds out her old lover has passed away years later. 

I’m quite cross with myself that I didn’t know more about this incredible woman before now and I definitely recommend this film, which in parts sort of reminded me of Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017) – must be because of the threesomes!

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My Rating

4/5. Sex-tastic!

What did my sex pot think of this? Would she censor the fudge out of it or send it a lifetime supply of johnnys? Find out here.

*Not actual figures.

I Am Not a Witch (Film) Review

Or: Witches be cray.

We round out May-hem Month with this beauty from Rungano Nyoni, Zambian-born turned Welsh national and first time film maker. I don’t know how Jill feels about this one yet but I can certainly say this may be the jewel in the crown as far as this month is concerned, and it’s been a pretty eclectic month.

I Am Not a Witch (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

Following a banal incident in her local village, 8-year old girl Shula is accused of witchcraft.

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My Review

8-year-old Shula (Maggie Mulubwa) wanders around her local village silently and apparently aimlessly. As she doesn’t appear to have any family, friends or home – and appeared out of nowhere one day, the locals are convinced she’s a witch. Especially since they claim that odd things started happened as soon as she arrived. When a local woman falls down whilst carrying a bucket of water and blames Shula, she is taken away to a government-funded witch camp (which sounds kind of fun actually).

To give you an idea of the kind of court ruling we are dealing with here: the determining factor of whether Shula is a witch or not is the dance of a dead chicken, conducted by a real life witch doctor. If he dies inside a small circle of salt, Shula is not a witch, if he dies outside, well you get the picture.

The camp itself is part work camp, part tourist attraction where holiday makers snap pictures of the witches who gurn good-naturedly for the cameras. Each witch is strapped to a spindle of ribbon that keeps them from flying away. When they fly they go killing according to local lore.

Shula tries to run away on the first day but that night is welcomed by the other witches via the medium of song and is given a choice – cut her own ribbon and risk being turned into a goat or stay grounded and accept that she’s a witch. A no-brainer you could say. So Shula adapts and even seems happy when some of the more seasoned witches take her under their wings. One even lectures her on the importance of education and teaches her how to eavesdrop on lessons being taught at the local schools.

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Shula is nameless until she meets the other witches – they give her this moniker because it means ‘uprooted’. Just as our girl is getting her bearings, she is taken away from her new community and on the road by a government official. She is required to use her witchy powers to point out the guilty party in minor legal disputes and make TV appearances, among other duties.

The same official also allows her into his home and reveals something of a secret to her at the same time, that his own wife is also a witch who has gained respectability through marriage. The official’s wife makes it clear that if Shula desires the same life then she has to do as she’s told at all times.

Well, it might please you to learn that Shula does not roll that way and slowly but surely starts to push against these new responsibilities. Her rebellion drives her new ‘guardian’ mad and as she refuses to make it rain (literally) and shows him up in front of an important ‘white man’, both Shula and his wife are threatened with being cast back to where they came from.

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Will Shula return to whence she came or does the universe have something more divine in store for her? Well, this is a five-star movie in my opinion so it would be cool if you saw it yourself but let’s just say that the ending is stark and incredibly haunting – and I sort of felt destroyed afterwards.

IANAW is by no means a bleak and brittle piece though. It is handled with a sense of humour that works incredibly alongside the severity of Shula’s story. Her tale if you think about it is completely farcical, with these women condemned on hearsay alone but it is also based on actual stories of witchcraft in Zambia.

There’s a lot to be said about the treatment of women here too, of how flimsy the evidence is against them and of how they are treated by society. While some are lucky enough to be ‘rescued’ from their fates, they must conform to a very strict code in order to stay saved and the ultimate goal is respectability. A very boring goal indeed.

The film looks gorgeous and the performances are wicked. Especially Maggie Mulubwa as Maggie, a non-actor who nails her soulful performance with hardly any dialogue. We never really get to the bottom of her true story but the ending suggests that perhaps there is something in the folklore after all.

Basically I loved every minute, it’s fucking brilliant.

My Rating

5/5.

What did my own little witch think of this one? Would she turn it into a goat or take it for a ride in a big orange lorry? Find out here.

The Transfiguration (Film) Review

Love, loss and vampires? Where do we sign, right?

*Spoilers*

The Transfiguration (2016)

IMDB Synopsis

When troubled teen Milo, who has a fascination with vampire lore, meets the equally alienated Sophie, the two form a bond that begins to blur Milo’s fantasy into reality.

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My Review

Milo (Eric Ruffin) is a weirdo, sorry but there it is. A loner in a lonely world, he sees a regular councilor and stares out of the window in class. He’s also obsessed with vampire folklore, with vamp literature and film – and lives at home with his brother Lewis (Aaron Moten).

The boys live unaccompanied as both their parents have shuffled off this mortal coil, their mother more recently by suicide. Lewis has stopped hanging with the local gang and he’s also been to prison, hence the turnaround. Now the boys for the most part live together in harmony, if you don’t count their endless financial strife, Milo’s secrets and the constant bullying he is forced to contend with. Plus Lewis does not seem to understand Milo and his persistent staring at all.

Milo, for the record is not just interested in vampire culture but is intent on becoming one. He pieces together his own book of ‘rules’ and a concept of what he considers ‘realistic’ vampire behaviour – and this sometimes takes him to a very dark place. Like the darkest place imaginable. Vampires, after all can’t function without bloodshed.

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When Sophie (Chloe Levine) shows up at Milo and Lewis’ apartment block to stay with her grandfather, she and the vampire-botherer quickly but tentatively develop a connection. Milo has no friends and spends the majority of his time alone so this new friendship is meaningful. Sophie has also lost both of her parents and is physically abused by her awful new guardian. Her escape is Milo and they bond over their traumatic lives, their sense of loss and Sophie’s self harm.

Milo shares his favourite vampire movies with Sophie and she tries to get him to read Twilight, something he’s reluctant to do since he doesn’t think it will fit in with his picture of what vampires really are (e.g. sparkly vampires seem just that one step too far). Also, don’t do it Milo, it’s unbearable.

As the friendship deepens, so does Milo’s desire to turn himself. He’s dappled in the past. In fact, the film opens with a little neck sucking action which is so matter of fact it’s almost forgettable. When Milo leads a white tourist into a dangerous situation that ends in the worst possible way, he finds himself on the wrong side of the neighbourhood gang, the very same dudes who taunt him with names and enjoy roughing him up.

How is all this going to pan out for our anti-hero and his new love interest? Will the boys ever escape the grasp of their less-than-stellar environment? And will Milo be successful in his quest to become a modern-day Dracula? Only one way to find out!

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My Thoughts

Well, I think this film is actually great in many ways but isn’t the most pleasant viewing experience. There are a lot of loaded stares and extended silences and although they have meaning, that isn’t always the most comfortable watch. Lewis seems to despair of his brother when he actually just looks like he could do with a hug but Milo doesn’t help himself with his bizarre behaviour.

Milo’s fantasies could well be a symptom of his unprocessed grief, especially as we learn that he found his mother’s body after she had slashed her own wrists. Although, the fact that he tastes her blood as it congeals is also a cause for concern and might suggest that he already had a macabre obsession with the undead before all this happened.

The Transfiguration is good-looking and quite a fresh take on the vampire sub-genre. The film is soaked with sadness and the feeling of loss permeates everything. The fact that we rarely meet an adult character adds to the sense of neglect and it does feel as though nobody really cares about anybody (a metaphor for the lower classes?). Milo’s loneliness hangs heavy and while a lot of his behaviour is seriously dubious (in one scene he slaughters a child), it’s hard not to feel for him.

The ending is pretty crushing too, a brutal comment on the flimsiness of life and I can’t deny it’s stayed with me ever since I saw it on Sunday. Personally I also seriously enjoyed all Milo’s referencing of classic vamp movies, from Nosferatu to Near Dark and Let the Right One In. Kid’s got fine taste, there’s no question there.

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My Rating

3.5/5.

What does my vampire queen think of this bad boy? Would she turn it in a heartbeat or leave in on the street like yesterday’s news? Find out here.

Office (Film) Review

May-hem month seems to be leaning towards Asia Extreme movies so far and I for one am here for it. While this week’s pick is nowhere near as bat shit crazy as the last, it’s still pretty out there in terms of premise and delivery. There’s a strong moral to the movie too which I’ll address but for now, my thoughts.

*Spoilers*

Office (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

The investigation following a sales manager brutally killing his entire family leads to a track of mystery and tragedy in an overwhelmed work team at Seul.

My Review

Lee Mi-Rye (Ko Asung) is a hard-working intern hoping to be made permanent in a big sales firm in Seoul, South Korea. As with so many big companies, she’s treated like a pack-horse and given very little recognition in return, which I’ll go into in just a moment. First I should mention that the film begins with Mr Kim, an employee at the same firm. As the movie opens we witness Kim return home from work, eat a nice meal and then slaughter his entire family, child and all, with a hammer. What’s wrong with After Eight Mints is what I want to know?

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Stop. Hamm… no I can’t. Too much.

Back at the office, the police are going through the staff one by one trying to work out a) why this happened and b) where Kim is now he’s at large. It soon becomes apparent to Detective Jong-Hoon (Sung-woong Park) that the staff are all hiding something.

Back to Mi-Rye. As soon as the police turn up, Mi-Rye is briefed by her colleagues to pretend that she didn’t know Kim very well. She plays along at first because she’s eager to please. However, Jong-Hoon soon sees through her and learns that actually she was quite close to him. Mi-Rye explains that he was the only person nice to her when she started.

The rest of her colleagues are absolute bastards to her actually and this only gets worse when their big boss Kim Sang-Gyu (Eui-sung Kim) hires a second intern. This pits the girls against each other and has Mi-Rye’s colleagues comparing her unfavourably to the new girl.

Meanwhile, the cops work out via CCTV that after the murders, Kim returned to the office and was not seen leaving. This suggests he’s still in the building! EEEK. This theory is further reinforced by the fact that Kim (and Mi-Rye’s) colleagues start to turn up dead in wonderfully gruesome ways.

All this is set against the backdrop of an overworked and under-valued work force who are being worked to the bone by their overbearing and demanding boss. Who reams them out in front of everyone else in the department which is probably the scariest thing about this thriller/horror – and my worst nightmare.

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Will we find out what pushed Kim over the edge? What are the others hiding? And is Mi-Rye okay, hun?

While I want to do a decent job of reviewing this I don’t want to give away every nuance of the plot. It is quite hard to keep a track of and the end is quite ambiguous, although AWESOME.

My Thoughts

Office was actually really compelling. I was all in from the get go, even though it does have a habit of flipping you backwards into a flashback without much fanfare. A couple of times, even though I was concentrating I had to rewind to understand a scene. I’m not afraid to admit that I also found a Reddit forum discussing the film and read that cover to cover to help me understand a couple of points.

The performances were good, the set up is great and there’s something so relateable about the setting of an office, since I personally spend so much time in one. As Mi-Rye learns what her colleagues really think of her, via the old-school medium of hiding behind pillars and eavesdropping, I could feel her distress and paranoia bubbling over.

Korean cinema is my favourite and although this doesn’t have the impact of Old Boy or Memories of Murder (to name but a few shit hot examples), it’s not bad at all. I like its creepy tone and enjoyed unraveling the plot. I also really found myself rooting for Mi-Rye who has the look of a rabbit caught in headlights for most of the film.

And the aforementioned moral of the story – and potential *Spoiler* – be nicer to your interns, fuckers.

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My Rating

3.5/5.

What did Jill think of this one? Would stay late to work on it or fire it? Find out here.

Tag (Film) Review

This month is May-hem Month (see what Jill did there?!) and we start off with quite the bang. I’m not sure if that’s in a good way either because I am still trying to work out what the fuck happened. So without further ado, let’s get down and dirty with our first May-hem pick!

Tag (2015)

IMDB Synopsis

A girl’s life cascades into chaos as everyone around her suffers a gruesome fate while she herself becomes less and less certain of who she is and what kind of a world she lives in.

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My Review

WTF was a common phrase running through my head as I watched this. I have little to no understanding of what happened which actually doesn’t matter that much as it adds to the general vibe of what our main character Mitsuko is going through. I’ll try my best to elaborate anyway.

Mitsuko (Reina Triendl) appears to be a sensitive soul, writing poetry and being less abrasive than her classmates (in short, there’s something special about her, bear that it mind). On a school trip, our heroine narrowly escapes a bloody and inexplicable fate. (Like the most creative death scene since Ghost Ship (2002) – it is immense!).

Killer wind, anyone?

Dazed and confused but very much alive, Mitsuko immediately stumbles from the scene of the accident into a (different) school where her peers all seem to recognise her – but she’s got no clue if she’s a student there, who she is, who they are. Bemused by her sudden flakiness, her friends – Aki, Taeko and Sur – make her cut class and they all end up in the woods. Whilst there, Mitsuko outlines what happened on the bus (killer wind, sliced up bodies, all that jazz) – and puts it down to being a bad dream.

This leads to an existential discussion about parallel timelines and alternate worlds lead by Sur (short for ‘Surreal’) – who philosophises that to avoid a horrible fate and set the world back in motion, Misuko just has to do something completely unexpected (honestly, I got lost here but there is a giant crocodile dream sequence which is pretty glorious).

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When the girls return to their classrooms, they are torn down by homicidal teachers with machine guns (and I thought Catholic school was heavy). All but Mitsuko are slaughtered where they stand. From here we flip and flop into an exploration of these alternate universes, as Mitsuko becomes Keiko and Izumi (played by different actresses so very confusing). Her alternates are a bride betrothed to a boar headed man (been there) and a marathon runner.

(You with me?) LOL.

Mitsuko keeps on meeting the same group of girlfriends who are either friend or foe in these realities – but they generally end up killed in the most OTT ways imaginable. Always constant however is Aki, who pops up to support or gee up Mitsuko/Keiko/Izumi along the way. At one point she tells Mitsuko that she might be these other two characters in different lives but at the core she will always be Mitsuko.

Aki also explains to Mitsuko that in order to stop the cycle of all her friends being slaughtered in every reality, she needs to die. Later there’s a convoluted thread about all this being a computer game with Mitsuko as the main character, some stolen DNA and a sinister as all fuck shrine to all her dead classmates.

I guess the final point here is, will Mitsuko make the ultimate sacrifice to save her friends?

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My Thoughts

Apart from the gore there isn’t an awful lot to engage me here – which is ludicrous because on paper this is the most me film you can think of. However, I just didn’t connect with it at all. I loved the killings and the fantasy/horror element of everything but the plot is just too incoherent for me to keep up. I’ve read through the Wiki synopsis a few times and I’m still confuddled.

I do like what it’s supposedly saying about the ‘boys club’ and how everything is run by a bunch of sad and pervy little boys and I would have liked more of an exploration of that. It would have been amazing to have seen Mitsuko fuck up the patriarchy – but it is refreshing to watch a movie run by so many females.

In tone it reminds me of a film called The Machine Girl (2008) – which dials up the blood and goo but doesn’t deliver much else. Again, believe me I’m as surprised as anyone that this sub genre doesn’t seem to be for me.

My Rating

Sorry, but 1.5/5.

What did Jill make of this one? Would she leave it outside in the killer wind or follow it through parallel universes for lyfe. Find out here.

God’s Own Country (Film) Review

Here at Collab HQ (it’s more of a state of mind than an actual place given that we’re camped on separate continents), we love to devastate ourselves. Sometimes we favour fluff just to get over the utter weep-fests we’ve put ourselves through.

Although this week’s movie might not have had that exact effect on me, it did leave me with a heavy lump in my chest. It was a movie I felt profoundly and I’m so glad we finally got round to it. Thank you Netflix for coming through.

*Spoilers*

God’s Own Country (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

Spring. Yorkshire. Young farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker for lambing season ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.

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My Review

Johnny (Josh O’Connor) lives with his dad and gran on a cattle farm in Yorkshire. Rural life is fucking tough, his father isn’t that well and Johnny dulls his pain and loneliness with booze and secret liaisons with boys down the local (I feel ya, Johnny). Delivered home puking most nights by furious cab drivers, Johnny’s folks just think he’s irresponsible and don’t understand him at all. This just exacerbates his feeling of isolation and when he does bump into friends from his past, he’s bitter because they’ve moved on and left him behind.

When it becomes apparent that the farm will need more help during lambing season, they hire Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) who quickly becomes a god send, much to Johnny’s irritation. The pair doesn’t hit it off immediately and Johnny burns bridges in the first few days by referring to Gheorghe as ‘gyppo’.

While Gheorghe pretty much just gets on with it, even around the awkward energy between Johnny and his family, he doesn’t take kindly to Johnny’s racist attitude and nips it in the bud quickly. One weekend, away from the farm but very much on farming duties, the boys come head to head and the friction that’s been building between them explodes. What begins with a fight, ends in rough sex in the mud.

After this encounter, the two barely speak about it though there has been an unmistakable shift between them. Later that night, they fuck again, this time with a little more tenderness.

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Back at the ranch, the sex continues but it also becomes more than that. Johnny invites his lover to share his bed in the farmhouse but he declines, preferring to stay in the caravan.

As Johnny and Gheorghe get closer, Johnny’s father suffers another stroke and the future of the farm is placed in Johnny’s calloused hands. When he discusses the prospect of Gheorghe staying on and permanently running the farm with him, Gheorghe expresses some concerns, namely living and working together simultaneously.

This sends Johnny into a tailspin and he acts out enough to send Gheorghe packing. Gheorghe also suffers some predjudice in the pub which doesn’t help.

Johnny’s nan Deidre (Gemma Jones) blames him for fucking up again and wonders how they’ll manage now. When Johnny goes to see his father about the future, he’s surprisingly understanding and gives his blessing for Johnny to do what he needs to to be happy – can you guess what that is?

Will Johnny do the right thing and make a success of his future finally? What do you think?

This film is gorgeous to look at but it’s all in the glances our lovers share, in the secret looks and the slightest of gestures. It’s in the loneliness, the isolation and the ache of not being able to be open to who they are – until they can be open with each other and I really felt it all.

The performances are heartfelt, while the pace of the film is quite slow which I didn’t mind. Not once did this feel like a slog and I think there’s a skill in that kind of film making. The movie very subtley addresses the topic of homophobia but more so in the fact that it isn’t talked about and everything has to be secret. While I don’t remember any out and out prejudice, this is only because Johnny’s not out publicly.

It was heart-warming to learn that perhaps Johnny’s family knew more than he thought about his ‘secret’ and that in their own sweet way they just wanted what was best for him. As for Gheorghe, we get little insight into his own life in Romania, something I would have liked but I understand wasn’t strictly necessary.

All in all this is a nice love story that felt authentic – and yes, it almost finished me.

My Rating

4.5/5.

What did my love think of this one? Would she take it down the local for a fumble or toss it out with the cold bath water? Find out here of course.