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‘DUM-de went my trochaic heart’ after watching the ‘My Policeman’

There are movies that make you feel something. Then, there are the gut-wrenching movies that shatter the very expectations that you have about love and leave you and your group of friends crying for 20 minutes after the credits have rolled. “My Policeman,” written by Bethan Roberts, does a phenomenal job of shifting the viewers not just physically to Brighton, England, but mentally into the 1950s. The atmosphere of lost dreams due to societal oppression — since being gay was illegal at that time — mixed with desires of having an ideal life that seeks validation from that very society sets up a conflicted tension throughout the film. The movie took place in the past and present, showing the younger versions of the policeman Tom (Harry Styles), teacher Marion (Emma Corrin) and the museum curator Patrick (David Dawson) for the majority of it. The three characters are intertwined in a hopeless love triangle where Marion is unaware or purposely shielding her eyes to the obvious truth that her husband Tom is gay.

In the beginning, they almost form a trio of best friends, although there are occasional slip-ups where Tom and Patrick get close. These moments are important because they showcase that Tom is extremely innocent and despite having feelings for Patrick, is unable to make the clear first move. I think this element is especially relevant today, where people mistake love for lust and slow romances lead to losing interest rather than buildup. Tom is a unique character because he represented how, even despite having certain feelings, some people are unable to come to terms with their sexuality and end up making mistakes or hurting the people around them. With a very humanistic element as portrayed brilliantly by Harry Styles, he often has moments of weakness, like when he gets drunk and goes to Patrick’s house, or when he gets angry at the dinner table because Patrick is trying to give too many opinions on his marriage. He was just figuring it out, however; despite being the right people for each other, the timing and situation made it difficult for him to do so.

Patrick has a very deep and dark personality that heavily contrasts with both Marion’s and Tom’s. This could have been because, to a certain extent, he had gone through the process of self-discovery and holds a guard around him that he only occasionally lets down. The scene where Patrick and Tom are standing in front of a painting of a storm portrays their individualistic traits, where Tom looks at it through his rose-colored glasses as exciting but Patrick identifies it as “frightening.” This was in sync with the relationships that ensue between Patrick and Tom and Tom and Marion and also foreboded the shifting tides of their ideals. 

The cinematography is sublime and includes a light beige filter which made it look as if it was a fiction-like fantasy love story — an illusion waiting to be shattered by the harsh reality of the “tides.” Lighting plays an important role, too – when Tom is laying with Patrick, there is a warm glow along with a more relaxed posture and displays of equality both in feelings and comfort. However, this contrasted with Tom and Marion, where the room is dark, almost seeming cold and forced. Occasionally, the pacing seemed a little rushed, since there was so much content and important little details that made it wholesome. However, the theme of the movie encouraged the viewers to read between the lines and analyze not just the scenes, but the characters, too, as the time jump results in various character developments. 

Even the future characters played by Linus Roache (Tom), Gina McKee (Marion) and Patrick (Rupert Everett) did an outstanding job at showcasing the unhappiness that can result from not allowing yourself to be who you want to be. The mixture of love, regret and lost time created a heart-stopping, intoxicating picture. To a great extent, the film is also about letting go, as in the case of Marion, who finally chooses to accept reality and leave Tom after reading Patrick’s journals. 

Another thing that moved me was how much the cast wanted to be a part of this film for personal reasons. Some of them are members of the LGBTQ+ community themselves, and therefore believed in the message more strongly. Harry Styles, a global pop icon memorized the entire script before auditioning because it struck a chord with him. The risk that he has taken while doing this film in terms of potentially losing his fanbase and raising the inevitable questions regarding his own sexuality, an area he has always wanted to keep private, just shows how he’s willing to move outside his comfort zone and explore his cinematic expertise. This entire film was evidently a labour of love, commitment and hard work that surpassed any expectations that the viewer could hold.

Movie: “My Policeman”

Starring: Emma Corrin, David Dawson, Harry Styles

Director: Michael Grandage

If you liked: “The Notebook”, “Titanic”

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

Contact Ananya Dalmia at adalmia@nd.edu