Following passionate sex, Tom asks his lover, do you think of ever getting married? Tom isn’t proposing. His lover, Patrick, is gay, as is Tom. They live in 1950s England, when homosexuality is unlawful and marriage is a mode of concealment. Michael Grandage’s My Policeman, based on the Bethan Roberts novel of the same name, explores the triangular relationship that develops between Tom, Patrick, and Marion, the woman Tom marries.
The Amazon Prime Video release’s big selling point isn’t its subject matter but its casting. Imagine a poster that reads: Starring singing sensation Harry Styles! The Crown star Emma Corrin! The handsome cast provides a welcome distraction from Ron Nyswaner’s stilted screenplay, the maddening feeling that an important subject has been mechanically handled, and the temptation to revisit better films on the same theme such as Maurice, Brokeback Mountain and Portrait of a Lady on Fire.
In the present, an ailing Patrick (Rupert Everett) re-enters the lives of Marion (Gina McKee) and Tom (Linus Roache). Flashbacks reveal how the museum curator Patrick (David Dawson) becomes a third wheel in the relationship between the policeman Tom (Styles) and the school teacher Marion (Corrin).
Tom’s feelings for Patrick are summarised by his reaction to the classic JMW Turner painting Steam Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth that hangs at the local gallery. Their clandestine “exciting and frightening” affair sets off a maelstrom that threats to drown Marion too.
My Policeman seeks to reminds us of a time when same-sex love was a matter of both social embarrassment and criminal prosecution. David Dawson’s sensitive visage and haunted demeanour give the best measure of the price of leading a double life. Emma Corrin and Harry Styles are strictly adequate in a film that’s strictly average in its portrayal of extraordinary times.