In a journey that examines the cost of love and the passing of time, filmmaker Michael Grandage brings to life the beautiful and emotional story of My Policeman, and this film is sure to make every audience member shed a tear.
Set in 1950s Brighton, a gay policeman, Tom Burgess (Harry Styles), marries schoolteacher Marion Taylor (Emma Corrin) while being in a relationship with Patrick Hazlewood (David Dawson), a museum curator. The secret they share threatens to ruin them all.
Known for his work as a leading theatre director, Michael Grandage again returns to step behind the camera for his second feature film in the highly anticipated adaptation of Bethan Roberts’ My Policeman. Grandage devotes himself to this emotionally-heavy film, and his handling of the film’s deep drama and themes of love, obsession and secrecy come to deeply impact the audience. Using two duel narratives, the first following the three main characters in their youth during the vibrant late 1950s, and the other in the dour 1980s when age and time have withered all of them, this split narrative helps to bring together the whole story of this film, and we learn how the actions of the past have impacted the existence of the present.
Grandage and cinematographer Ben Davis use the duel time period to help establish the story and build a mood that carries the narrative forward. Both Grandage and Davis are very deliberate in their choices in this film, and the story’s youthful late 1950s setting is bright and decadent with the promise of fun and adventure, while the latter narrative is wrapped in colder, darker hues which heighten the sadness and grief that have passed with time. The film is slow and deliberate and moves forward at its own pace, never rushing forward, but taking into account this wide story and the broad range of developments that its characters face.
For his performance in My Policeman, Harry Styles completely throws away his teen heartthrob status, instead fully embracing the complex, nuanced character of closeted policeman Tom Burgess. Drawing a comparison to Heath Ledger for his work in Brokeback Mountain, Styles is completely transformative in the role and you forget you’re watching Styles himself and just see into the character. Styles is slowly but surely turning into a performer to keep an eye on, and his portrayal of Tom is honest and emotional and is a very revealing performance. Styles is unafraid to bare himself to the audience in My Policeman, and his bravery in a very demanding part is to be lauded.
Starring opposite Styles is Emma Corrin as Marion Taylor, a young school teacher who becomes the object of Tom’s affection and who in a blissful surge of youth quickly marries him. But her love for Tom blinds her to his true nature and when his secrets come to life, they’re more than she can stand, and this revelation leads to some very uncomfortable truths coming to light. Corrin is very naturalistic in the part and plays off of both Styles and co-star David Dawson very well. Corrin wrestles with a mix of emotions as Marion including joy, grief and jealousy, and the audience will find an empathy with Marion’s character that is unexpected, but completely resolute.
Another key performer in the mix is David Dawson as museum curator Patrick Hazlewood who welcomes the affections of Styles’ young, handsome policeman Tom Burgess, and it’s Dawson who truly drives forth the action of the narrative. Like Styles, Dawson bares all in the role and he’s very at ease in the part of the learned and dapper Hazlewood. His role drives forth the drama of the picture and places both Tom and Marion in an impossible position, and even with everything he suffers, his humanity never leaves him, and audiences will truly feel for him.
My Policeman is a film that is filled with glamour and drama, showing both great joy and terrible sadness, and its highly emotional story will leave a massive impact on audiences. And in its closing frames, audiences will be reaching for the tissues to wipe away the tears. It’s a brave, bold and beautiful picture, and makes for a very special watch.
Image: Prime Video