‘My Policeman’ a tragedy of love and cinema


Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime Video

At the Toronto International Film Festival, the three leads, Styles, Dawson and Corrin were asked how they bonded to portray an authentic friendship. “Early on, we promised each other we’d look after each other through the process,” Dawson said.

“My Policeman” is a beautiful mess. Its artistic and devastating but doesn’t reach its true potential. This film, directed by Micheal Grandage, follows three individuals throughout their lifetimes. Two different actors play each of the main characters, one in their twenties and seventies. Tom Burgess (the younger Harry Styles and elder Linus Roache) is a local policeman in London. Marion Taylor (Emma Corrin and Gina McKee) is a reserved and artistically minded schoolteacher. Patrick Hazelwood (David Dawson and Rupert Everett) is an art curator who is an introverted character and intrinsically lonely. As the movie progresses, they become close friends while Marion falls for Tom, and Tom and Patrick fall for each other. Each character is portrayed by two actors, showing them in their youth and in old age. 

This movie is set in 1950s London. At this point in time, individuals were persecuted for being gay, and you can see how it impacts Tom and Patrick’s relationship throughout this movie. Tom struggles to accept his sexuality and at the beginning of their relationship rejects Patrick, before understanding his own feelings. Patrick has seen how other gay people in his community experience violence and discrimination from the police force, and both of these men are in constant fear of being reported. 

One of the best parts of this film is the actions performed by Emma Corrin and Gina McKee. Marion Taylor was seamlessly portrayed as a woman who loved her husband while also despising him for the lack of romance in her own life. Marion is devastated that she was cheated on by her husband, but never expresses that anger towards him directly until much later in her life. 

This movie succeeds in creating a complicated relationship between the main characters and the viewers. Marion, Tom, and Patrick are all kind-hearted and compassionate, but make unforgivable choices throughout the film. Tom and Patrick intend to keep their love a secret from Marion, but it doesn’t last long. Marion quickly grows to resent Tom for his lies to her and feels as if Patrick is “pretending” to be her friend. She feels as if she is keeping them from each other, but also angry about the lies they’ve both told her and resents the passionless marriage she experiences with Tom. 

This was Harry Styles and David Dawson’s first film together. In a Vogue interview, Dawson describes their communication throughout the film.
“We promised each other very early on that we would continue to check in all the time, to ensure that we had each other’s backs because some of the scenes can be vulnerable emotionally as well,” said Dawson
(Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime Video)

Marion turns Patrick into the police as a way for her to finally “keep” her husband. Although you feel for Marion because it’s clear Tom doesn’t love her, this was one of the most despicable parts of the film. Patrick loses his job, is sent to jail, and is abused while in prison. When Marion reveals to Tom years later that she’s the one that reported him, Tom tells Marion she “ruined” his life. 

This movie fails in a few instrumental ways. While the acting is fluid and consistent, Styles struggles to find the power in his character throughout the film. Watching his performance makes the audience feel as if you’re trying to figure out who his character is with him. His character seems lost in an unintentional way, which takes away from the plot and the few moments when his acting is successful. 

The actors who portray the older version of themselves are strong, as they’re consistent and accurately what these characters would progress to in their later years. Although the actors don’t stand out in their acting, I didn’t feel connected to them as a viewer. The cast succeeds in making the two generations of actors one seamless character, from their mannerisms to their progression through life and who they grew to be. This was one of the most impactful traits of the film. 

This movie successfully creates complicated, multi-dimensional characters and allows you to follow them through their life. But Styles’ acting and the lack of character development take away from the potential of what this film could be.