"My Policeman" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Ever since his solo career took off in 2017, Harry Styles has made it well-known throughout the world that he is a huge advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, with him dancing and waving around the Rainbow Flag on stage, while also wearing dresses and other gender-fluid clothing. It only really seemed like a matter of time until he starred in a movie about the Gay community, which he does in Michael Grandage's powerful 2022 film, "My Policeman". Based off the novel of the same name by Bethan Roberts, the movie meticulously follows the lives of gay men throughout 1950s' Britain, where being part of the gay community was outlawed.
The film's titular character is Tom Burgess (Styles), who is a policeman working in London. He meets the young Marion Taylor (Emma Corrin), who instantly falls for the young policeman. They go on numerous dates together, getting to know one another and falling in love. When Tom informs Marion, who is a schoolteacher, that he has guest passes to a famous museum due to him interacting with a witness at a crime scene, of course she doesn't turn down the opportunity to explore different types of artwork.
The museum curator, named Patrick Hazlewood (David Dawson), who is a gay man that lives in hiding for most of his life. He knows the way he lives is illegal in Britain, which forces him to sneak around and have sexual encounters with other men in private. Tom and Marion don't know this, however, and the three soon become great friends, doing almost everything together.
This serves as the first segment of the film, allowing the viewers to really get to know and understand the characters and their intentions. Because of this, that means the film would need excellent portrayals of these characters, which I think all three actors were able to do. I mention in my review for "Don't Worry Darling", the Olivia Wilde-directed psychological horror film that Styles starred in earlier this year, that Styles is perhaps at his best when he is tasked with playing a charming and easy-going character. This film perfectly cements my opinion, showing him as a character that is so easy to love and a lot of fun to watch.
However, as the film progresses, we find out that Tom and Patrick actually know each other quite well, with them having a romantic relationship behind the scenes. Tom is a closeted homosexual, and even then, he isn't sure if he likes who he truly is. He uses Marion as a beard, in a way, hoping that no one will find out that he isn't straight and "normal" like everyone else is.
I would say this part, which is when an older Marion (Gina McKee) discovers Patrick's older journal, is the best part of this film. The relationship between Tom and Marion is lovely, but it is lacking that romantic interest or passion between the two, mostly on Tom's part. Yet, when we get into this part of the film, and we see the two male lovers start to form and build their relationship, it makes the viewer fall more in love with this relationship and want to see how it progresses throughout the movie.
At the same time, Grandage is able to control the tone of the movie. In any other romantic film, a viewer may feel overjoyed at the romance blossoming between two people. But in this case, which can almost be considered similar to the feeling one gets when watching "Titanic", you know not to get attached. You know something bad is going to happen that will separate our two lovers. Yet, Grandage really brings us in and attaches us to this relationship and this couple as they try to navigate their own way through the time period.
Styles and Dawson give fantastic performances in this, both of them giving an excellently detailed performance as two men who want to love who they love. This is what I was saying earlier about Styles; he is able to swoon Corrin's character and make her fall in love with him for his own personal gain. Now, does this make Tom a bad guy? I don't think so necessarily. Yes, he shouldn't have done that to the girl who is so obviously head over heels for him, but was he really given any other choice?
The third part of this film focuses on the older version of these characters, many years later. Marion is now taking care of Patrick (Rupert Everett), who has now suffered a stroke and lost his ability to move or communicate. He is slowly building back his strength and ability to communicate, but it is a long road. She is still with Tom (Linus Roache), who is furious at his wife for bringing Patrick back into their lives and refuses to see or talk to him.
The movie excellently moves back and forth between the two time periods, and from the set design and writing, it makes the viewer actually feel like they're flashing forward and back from the different time periods. Also, the older actors look uncanny as the younger actors present in the movie, even furthering the belief that we are viewing their lives now like a fly on the wall.
Many have judged this movie too harshly on the story or the themes present, but I think it is a great LGBTQIA+ film that explores the cruelty towards the gay community, while also showing how love is love, no matter what shape or form it takes. At a deeper level, it is simply just a beautiful representation of love and loss, which I think will easily stand the test of time for years to come.