My Policeman Review: a love story told over 40 years


David Dawson, Emma Corrin, and Harry Styles in My Policeman, Amazon Studios 2022.

Leanna Ward, Editor in Chief

Amazon Studios released My Policeman, a period romance film, on October 21st in theaters, and on November 4th on Amazon Prime. The film stars Harry Styles, David Dawson, and Emma Corrin. It is set in Brighton, England between the 1950s and the 1990s, following a complex love triangle between three people: Tom, Marion, and Patrick. The film is produced by Amazon and directed by Michael Grandage, based on a book of the same title written by Bethan Roberts.

At the start of the film, we are introduced to Tom and Marion, a bright, new young couple at the beginning of their relationship. Tom, played by Harry Styles is a policeman who is fresh onto the scene and bright-eyed. Marion, played by Emma Corrin, is a demure young schoolteacher. The two date and soon, we are introduced to a third subject, an artist and director of an art gallery at the local museum named Patrick, played by David Dawson.

The three become friends as Patrick and Tom begin a secretive relationship while Tom is still dating Marion. Things progress in all relationships, and Tom proposes to Marion, and the two marry, leaving Patrick to watch from a close distance. We watch as these romances clash and cause great pain for all parties.

The film as it follows these two timelines, showcases the relations between the characters at these times, the only times they all are together throughout their lives. Firstly, in the 1950s when the heat of the relationship is at its highest, and several decades later in the 1990s, when Tom and Marion who are still married meet Patrick again for the first time since the events of the 50s. Marion and Tom take in an unwell Patrick to their home, as Patrick struggles with recovering from a stroke.

With the film switching back and forth between the two timelines, we come to understand the motives of the characters in each timeline thanks to the other and we see tensions in these situations rise and ultimately, how each resolve whether bitterly, painfully, or subtly.

The 1950s storyline details the throws and passion of the relationships, and the 1990s storyline showcases what this looks like several decades later when relations have dramatically shifted, and life is altogether completely different.

Tom and Marion marry in the 50s and have a seemingly perfect life from an outsider, but things as the audience knows, are nothing but that. Tom has a big secret as we know, his and Marion’s best friend is also his lover.

Tom and Patrick have an extremely passionate relationship but a volatile and dangerous one. If they are found out, there are high stakes for all, but especially for Tom, a police officer and married.

The film is a study of human compassion and love, in all its facets and glory. We see how these emotions can manifest in beautiful things, but also in terrible things. “This love is all-consuming. I pity people who don’t know what it feels like to be this in love, “Patrick writes in his diary. This “all-consuming” nature Patrick writes about is central to the story in both Tom and Patrick’s love story but also Tom’s relationship with Marion and her love for him, for better or for worse.

The film, being set in Brighton England, always comes back to the sea. In fact, the opening shots are of the sea, with beautiful cinematography of cliffs off the shores of England. The ocean is used as a metaphor for love, specifically Tom and Patrick’s love, as it is as powerful, beautiful, and albeit destructive, as the sea.

There are metaphors and connections of love to the sea throughout the film via art and recurring imagery of the ocean. There is a painting that we see a few times in the film from the museum where Patrick works. The painting is of waves in a storm engulfing a ship. “Notice the light striking the crest of the crashing waves, you felt they could crush you or take you under,” Patrick says while showing Tom the painting, at one of their first meetings.

There is even a song that is used in the film’s trailer that is titled “Sea of Love,” by Cat Power. The song, although not written for the movie, plays on the film’s theme of love and the ocean perfectly and ties it all together.

The film proves Harry Styles’ legitimacy as an actor as he plays such a vulnerable and perplexed Tom. Through social obligations and genuine care for Marion, he struggles to come to terms with his own sexuality and what this means for him as a man.

My Policeman is a meditation on the intersection of love and social expectations, especially when the story takes place in the 1950s when gay love and relations were unaccepted and illegal, and men were expected to find wives and marry as fast as they could. The film is also an exploration of desire and jealousy, with a shared need for “my policeman,” between Marion and Patrick, We also see a need for acceptance and companionship from Tom, with an overarching need for love from all parties