Tag Archives: Romance

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.

Ct1HY-UXEAAI2RZ

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.

tumblr_oudyi7o6C91ww441wo2_r1_1280

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.

Irreplaceable You (Film) Review

image

Is there anything more baller than fixing up your loved one with his next love interest before you pass on? I think not. It might be a bit dubious given freedom of choice but the thought is there.

This is the premise we’re faced with this week and I’ll warn you, this is not an easy watch, especially if you have a frame of reference around The Big C. I know, right, who hasn’t? Here we go.

Irreplaceable You (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

A couple who have known each other since 8 are destined to be together until death do them apart.

My Review

This is not a film that would have interested me that much had Christopher Walken and Kate McKinnon not been in it. It was the bit with the support group that sold this to me in the trailer and I’m not sorry. It’s as sweet and weepy as expected. Is it breaking molds and pissing all over boundaries? It is not but I can’t expect that of all films, all the time.

Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Sam (Michiel Huisman, Daenerys’ fuck piece in Game of Thrones) have been together since they were kids. They’re destined to be together basically and everything is amazing until they mistake a tumor growing inside Abbie for a foetus. That’s right, that old bastard malignant cancer has come to devastate yet another set of lives and there’s little anybody can do.

Irreplaceable You

Of course Abbie is gutted but she gets on with treatment as best she can. She bonds with her nurse Dominic in the treatment suite (Timothy Simons) and joins a local support group, run by Mitch (Steve Coogan). Here she meets a band of unlikely allies; Glass Half Full Kate (McKinnon), Myron (Walken), Mean Phil and some others. She also learns that crocheting is a metaphor for… getting on with shit? Death?

At first our protagonist is not keen to mingle in this new environment but after a few choice words from Myron, she decides to return. A solid friendship is also born between this unlikely pair and honestly, it’s one of the best things about the film.

During a conversation however, about how Sam is likely to go through a slut phase when Abbie is gone, an idea is conceived: Abbie will pick her replacement now, saving him the job. Our girl is convinced her man is going to be such a hot commodity that he won’t stand a chance against the women of the world – and that his inexperience with the opposite sex will not serve him well either. Oh ye of little faith.

In a distinctly un-feminist montage, Abbie interviews a whole slew of supposedly unsuitable ladies she’s stalked in Tinder, deeming none of them right for Sam. They’re all either too mental or attached to their cats for Sam but then she meets cute barista Sally who wholeheartedly embraces this unorthodox plan and even helps Abbie out a couple of times. That there’s a bit of an unexpected spark between Sam and Sally when they meet does not go unnoticed by Abbie or us, the dear viewer.

irreplaceableyoujpg-a403b67a6463c108

Well, as with any cutesy plan, a flaw usually comes along to derail it and in this scenario it’s Sam himself. Horrified that Abbie thinks so little of him being able to take care of business himself, he gets mad and says something hurtful he can’t take back. The pair start to show signs of strain and decide to spend some time apart.

In this time, Abbie suffers a great loss and makes a couple of life-changing decisions for herself. What will become of our lovers, The Plan and everyone close to Abbie? Well, you know the drill.

My Thoughts

You know right away how this one ends up, so there’s no will she/won’t she. Despite its depressing outcome it has some minor laughs and both leads are likeable if a little bland.

As mentioned, the supporting characters are the ones that keep this engine ticking over. I really found Glass Half Full Kate’s honest monologue touching and relateable. Her world view is basically the same as mine and if she was a real person I would have grabbed her in a bear hug and never let go.

irreplaceable-you-lg

Cancer fucking sucks and it ruins lives. It take our loved ones without prejudice and I hate it but being able to talk about death and loss and love , well it’s healthy and real. Unavoidable some might say. But it’s the love and the light and all the cliches that are what matters ultimately and this is what the film says. Again, no surprises just a nice film with some good bits.

My Rating

3/5. Pass the tissues.

What did my Queen think of this one? Would she meet it in group or run away never to return again? Find out here.

1518896140_movie-quotes-irreplaceable-you-2018-758x316

Me Before You (Book) Review 

IMG_3020 (1)

“I will never, ever regret the things I’ve done. Because most days, all you have are places in your memory that you can go to.” ~ Me Before You, Jojo Moyes

I’m three or four books down on the 20 Book Summer Challenge and I think that’s okay. Perhaps 20 was a little ambitious but I’ll do what I can.

I particularly enjoyed this book, spending much of a Saturday in bed devouring it. I should say I found this surprising, as I hadn’t expected to like it that much.

I’m not a massive “chick-lit” fan (doesn’t that term just stick in your craw?) but I love Marian Keyes, Dawn French‘s lovely novels and a cheeky bit of Jenny Colgan, especially as Autumn turns to Winter and thoughts turn to Christmas cookies and hot chocolates by the window.

Apart from those though, I often find myself swerving the sugared almond covers of books ‘like that’ in favour of the reds and blacks of crime and thrillers. So, imagine my bemusement when I couldn’t put this one down.

I went out for brunch and spent an hour in the gym but all the time I was out and about, I was thinking about Lou Clark and Will Traynor.

WHUT?

*Beware spoilers* (I’m really going to try not to).

Lou Clark is a 26-year-old woman living with her working class family. Recently unemployed after the cafe she’s happily worked in for years closes, she has no idea what she wants to do. I mean, there aren’t that many options for a girl with no qualifications but she could train as a PT and then work with her boyfriend Patrick – but is that what she really wants?

Things at home aren’t great either, given that her income was a great help to her parents. Poor Mr Clark is on the verge of losing his own job to redundancy so when a new opportunity pops up to be a carer for a quadriplegic man, Lou feels she really should take it. Turns out she’ll be caring for Will Traynor, a former banker paralyzed in a motorcycle accident.

With no experience to speak of, Lou is surprised to be offered this job by prickly Camilla Traynor and her husband, Steven. But Camilla assures her she has been hired to brighten his spirits and not for her professional skills.

Can you guess the rest?

Actually, that’s unfair. Although this is a romantic story with a predictable (to a point) plot line, it really doesn’t lose anything from that. If anything it’s as comfortable as one of those crocheted blankets your nan used to make (well, not my Nana) but a really nice soft one. And, I didn’t know the whole story as I went in so there was enough there to keep me hooked.

I won’t reveal too much but I will say that there is more to this story than just boy meets girl, boy is mean to girl at first then they get on and girl cheers boy up. Lou quickly learns that her expected role in Will’s life comes with far more responsibility than she thought. Once she learns just how unhappy Will is and, in turn how far his parents and sister would go to change that, she commits hard.

With the help of her family and Will’s, will Lou be able to make Will value his life again? And how will she cope when her long-term relationship begins to feel less important to her as a result?

This is not my photograph

My Thoughts:

I thought I may have become immune to a story that didn’t have at least one horrible murder in it but I’m kind of glad that good and wholesome can still hold my attention. I very much enjoyed my time in this world, identifying with Lou’s lack of direction, getting annoyed at her thoughtless boyfriend and just wishing for the epic happy ending to end all happy endings. Whether I got that I’ll keep to myself.

Revision: I should add somewhere that there is a more serious underlying topic here which not everyone will agree with. Without spoilering, there’s a decision made by a central character that I certainly wasn’t expecting to actually happen, nor did I agree with. I’ll leave it there.

Jojo is a decent writer who shapes her characters well. Some of it is a little whimsical but I don’t mind a bit of whimsy every now and again. In fact, now more than ever I feel like I need a regular injection of it, though this comes with a side order of weepy.

Thankfully for me there is now a film adaptation (in cinemas now) starring Mother of Dragon’s herself Emilia Clarke AND a motherfucking sequel (After You, released 30 June) so there’s plenty more to enjoy over the next month.

10/10 would recommend if you’re open to a bit of cheese (more like 8/10 but who’s counting?). There are worse ways to spend a rainy Saturday, that’s for shiz.

Book details:

Me Before You
Publisher: Michael Joseph; 01 edition (5 Jan. 2012)
ISBN-10: 0718157834
ISBN-13: 978-0718157838
Bought paperback (new)

Have you read this book? What did you think? I’d be interested in your view, good or bad.

Also, I’m going to take myself to see the movie tomorrow afternoon (and so I can cry freely without being ribbed), anyone else seen it yet? ❤

The Way He Looks (Film) Review

Foreign cinema again but this time with a LGBT vibe, which I think might be the direction our next films will be taking.

Netflix has quite a few interesting offerings in this genre so who knows, the world is our oyster! This film is Brazilian with subtitles in Portuguese – Jillian’s pick.

*Beware spoilers*

the-way-he-looks-poster

The Way He Looks (2014)

Director: Daniel Ribeiro
Stars: Ghilerme Lobo, Fabio Audi, Tess Amorim

IMDB Synopsis: Leonardo is a blind teenager searching for independence. His everyday life, the relationship with his best friend, Giovana, and the way he sees the world change completely with the arrival of Gabriel.

My Review: 

Leo is blind. He’s also a hot-blooded teenager who fantasises about his first kiss, which he wants to be perfect (e.g. not with the school slut). Except he doesn’t believe anyone will ever want to pash on with him (oh honey, just you wait!). His best friend Giovana is a tad protective (maybe a little into him too) which earns her the nickname ‘human walking stick’ from the school bullies which, I feel, needs some work.

45049f1bb64443cd337607cff585ad59
*insert witty caption here* ‘cos I’ve got writer’s block

Every day she walks out of her way to see him to his gate, because that’s what good BFFs do. Leo takes this in good spirit but is less patient with his parents who are more than a little anxious every time he goes out, comes home to an empty apartment or breathes.

Leo also gets the piss ripped out of him by the obligatory school fuck heads, who mock his loud braille typewriter and imply that he’s gay. Pretty standard bully stuff really, but the kid’s blind, man. There has to be a special section in hell cordoned off for douche bags like Fabio (Pedro Carvalho) who, incidentally is the most irritating character in cinematic history; and not even a very good bully at that.

But back to Leo. One day, on the day he’s having to deal with stupid Fabio, in rocks Gabriel who takes the seat behind him. Before long, Giovana, Leo and Gabriel are thick as thieves, happily hanging out as a threesome but not in that way, obvs – this is a coming-of-age flick not a porno.

hoje
“And again… Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to turn around and say goodbye (say goodbye)…”

While the new friends bond, Leo floats the idea of going abroad with a foreign exchange programme. Even before Gab arrives, Leo has convinced himself that he wants out, to live somewhere alone and gain a bit of independence away from his overbearing family. The Exchange Programme woman is helpful but tells Leo he has to get his parent’s consent plus as a blind person, needs to find a family who’s down with that too. Not that he’s mentioned it to anyone besides Giovana, mind – right now it’s just a thought.

“What do you use to make your hair so curly (I mean not that I can see it)…?”

When the boys are paired together on a school project on Sparta (just watch 300 (2006), yo!), they start to become closer and Giovana feels excluded. More than that, she feels like she’s been completely abandoned. One day when they fail to wait for her after class, she goes mental and refuses to speak to either of them.

Leonardo
Trapped in a glass case of emotion

This only pushes our Romeos closer together. Leo starts to get feelings for Gabriel but doesn’t really know what to do with them. Well, I mean he knows what they mean, but doesn’t push the fact with Gabriel until one night at a party, Gabriel unexpectedly gives Leo his first kiss. N’aw.

THE-WAY-HE-LOOKS (1)
I’ve kissed way worse, don’t worry, Leo

This is after Fabio and his crew have tried to play a cruel trick on Leo whilst playing spin the bottle, which is thankfully twarted by Giovana. This leads to another row, but Giovana doesn’t tell Leo what they’d been planning to save his feelings. (See, good BFF!).

way-he-looks1
“Course I’m not going to draw a giant cock and balls on your back later…”

After the party, Gabriel tells Leo he was super drunk and remembers nothing, apart from having a row with Giovana (who also kissed him but he declined). Later, on a school trip, it becomes clear to us (but not Leo), that Gabriel is having sexy feelings too, though he doesn’t say anything, just looks angsty.

For the rest of the trip, gossip is rife about Gabriel and the school ho-bag, Katrina (Isabela Guasco), who’s a bundle of fun frankly (and unfairly labelled, I think. There’ll be no slut-shaming in this review). It seems apparent, from all ‘the signs’ that they’ll be getting it on later that evening.

Giovana and Leo make up thankfully, and Leo takes the opportunity whilst they’re alone and drinking to confess that he thinks he’s in love with Gabriel. Giovana does not react well and stomps off, though a few days later comes back and apologises, saying that she thinks they’d make a cute couple and that she just needed to get her head around the idea of him being a great big gay (to paraphrase).

Later, Gabriel and Leo are alone and they talk about the kiss and then… lalalala I’m not telling you! 

wayhelookssunshine
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

To the questions section… Will our heroes admit their true feelings to one another? Will Giovana ever get over her jealousy? Will she meet her own special prince? Will Fabio just fuck off already, please?

Will Leo’s parents ever let him go abroad on his own? And will he still want to?

How fit is Leo’s dad? And finally, ain’t love just grand? (Especially young, innocent, boy love?)

My Thoughts: 

Meh. While this is a sweet film, I found it all a little bit after school special. I mean, I like the91yaVuqQJuL._SL1500_ characters and all, I like the angst but there just wasn’t enough oomph for my taste. God, has Wetlands ruined me for nice, gentle and romantic films now? I sure hope not.

There is an innocence about The Way He Looks that’s refreshing but it needed an extra push to take it from okay to great. I’m not sure what my suggestion would be. Just a bit more attitude I think; some sass.

That said, Ghilherme Lobo is really good as Leo. I’m pretty sure from the half-arsed research I did for one minute that he isn’t blind irl, which makes him a bloody acting genius in my eyes, as he was very convincing.

The theme of independence that runs throughout it is also quite a touching one. How frustrating it must be to want freedom so badly but have all control held just out of your reach. This is something I remember from being a teenager, but the added challenge of being blind must amplify the resentment.

Leo’s parents mean well and they’re nice, loving people who care. Leo’s grandma is also a big part of his life (even though I’ve failed to mention her until now) and she’s pretty cool too. When Gabriel picks Leo up to go and work on their assignment, she just knows, you know?

There are some really nice moments, some light comedy and all in all, it’s perfectly fine. Not something that will stick with me, even given the final scenes, which are very, very adorable.

My Rating: 3/5 – *shrug*

What does my partner in crime, Jillian make of this little number? Find out here soon!