“God’s Country” is set in a small town in Montana. The movie is based on “Winter Light” by author James Lee Burke. Burke, who’s a New York Times bestselling author. Burke has written over forty novels. He also has two short story collections and “Winter Light” is from one of those collections. I hope more filmmakers dig into them and find more movies to make.
Our main character is Sandra Guidry, played by Thandiwe Newton. She’s a professor at the university in town. Just when you think you’ve gotten her and this narrative figured out, something else comes along. Several layers are going on but what seems to be the main storyline suddenly becomes an introspective that sends you spinning in another direction. Not that you’ll mind or be confused. To be honest, you’ll be grateful for its departure from the norm.
When the film opens, we see that Sandra’s mother, who has lived with her since they eventually left New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina, has just passed away. Sandra has her cremated.
After, she digs a hole on her land, burying what’s left of her mother on her beautiful, remote property in a Montana canyon.
Except by her students, Sandra, being black, isn’t exactly welcomed or liked around town. This isn’t new to her, but she hoped for something better when she moved out west to teach. She has a neighbor named Arthur (Kai Lennox) who also works at the college, but they do not see eye to eye on much of anything; they’re not close. Living almost in the middle of nowhere, she’s alone, missing her mother desperately. Luckily, she has a black lab for company.
A new storyline comes about around this time. This would be the thriller part of the drama you’ve been watching.
Not entirely carrying about her opinion on the matter, some men wander onto her property to hunt. They do this more than once after she directs them to stay away. They not only ignore her but send her an unkind message that they’re not going away. After, she speaks to the sheriff’s officer, who acts as if she’s the one causing trouble. She isn’t one to back down, so if the police won’t help her, she’ll help herself.
Their trespassing reminds her that she and her family have always been dismissed. It’s time to show these people what she’s made of. They will find out she’s more experienced in the law than they realize.
So, she learns who the men are, following them to dig up as much about them as possible. She finds out she has something in common with Nathan (Joris Jarsky) and reaches out to him, attempting to appeal to his humanity. It’s surprising to see this side of him after what has happened up to this point, but he isn’t interested in a woman of color telling him where he can and cannot go. Though they’ve shared a moment, she’s still not his kind, therefore not good enough. From here, the conflict escalates, and another is introduced.
The acting in “God’s Country” is terrific. You’ll like how Newton’s Sandra stands out and deals with everything. Also, the good ole’ boys are well represented by Jarsky and Jefferson White. They’ll anger and frustrate you, for sure. I don’t want to ruin the surprises you’ll get from watching, so catch this at the theater or on Prime to find out what ultimately happens in this yarn.
Release Date – Theaters: Sep 16, 2022 *Wide
Release Date – Streaming: Oct 4, 2022
Directed by: Julian Higgins
Written by: Shaye Ogbonna, Julian Higgins
Starring: Thandie Newton, Jeremy Bobb, Joris Jarsky, Kai Lennox, Jefferson White and Tanaya Beatty
Run Time: 1h 42m
Genre: Thriller, Drama, Mystery
Produced by: Miranda Bailey, Halee Bernard, Julian Higgins, Amanda Marshall
Distributed by: IFC Films