SUNDANCE REVIEW – “God’s Country”
God’s Country follows the story of Sandra (Thandie Newton) who, when the film begins, has just gotten past the funeral of her late-mother. She’s a professor at a college where the politics and power dynamics seem to be changing on a daily basis. On top of dealing with an immense amount of grief, she also has to deal with racism, sexism, and toxic masculinity in the work place. But it all comes ahead when two hunters trespass on her property and start a feud with her.
Thandie Newton is undeniably one of the best actresses working in the business today. So when I found out she had a new film premiering at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, I made it one of my top priorities to check-out. God’s Country is an incredibly meaty role for Newton, as it operates heavily as a character study on-top of being a thriller. She gets to both tap into her intensity as well as her amazing dramatic chops.
Julian Higgins does a really impressive job behind the camera at balancing the different focuses the film has. As previously mentioned, on the one hand, it’s a character study at Sandra as she deals with prejudices on the daily not only at her workplace but in the town she lives in. On the other hand, there’s a very neo-western type tension in the film that it never rids of until the final frame.
From start to finish, I was pretty impressed with how it operates as both a meaningful story about grief and how we deal with the struggles we face on the daily as well as a very basic, bare-bones thriller about a simple altercation that spirals out of control. All of these things tie together in a unique and chilling way that I was truly impressed by – all the while being glued together by a great performance from Thandie Newton.