In God’s Country, Thandiwe Newton plays a woman who must take up arms to protect her land from poachers. It might sound like a simple premise that allows the actress to show her fierce, indomitable spirit, but considering the story is a gender and race-swapped version of James Lee Burke’s short story “Winter Light”, nothing about this film is simple.
Race and toxic Red State politics come to the forefront when moving from a white man in his forties to a Black woman from New Orleans. Newton plays Sandra, who in the wake of her mother’s death, moves to her country home in Montana for a lonely existence off the grid. But on the day of the funeral, Sandra discovers a truck parked in her driveway. It belongs to local hunters who have little respect for her property rights, much less her personal ones.
I saw God’s Country at Sundance, and admired the battle of wills that slowly builds between Sandra and the townsfolk. Sandra has a part to play in the escalation, as well, with Newton depicting her as a flawed woman who is letting her anger take control. My only real beef is a big one, as the film can’t sustain its pot-boiling nature for long enough.
The film is directed and co-written by Julian Higgins alongside Shay Ogbonna. God’s Country opens in theaters on September 16th.