Emma Corrin’s Old-World Charm Brings 1950s London to Life In My Policeman
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Harry Styles might be the most public drawcard to Prime Video’s new romantic drama My Policeman (and he does deserve praise for his portrayal of the kind hearted Tom Burgess) but, respectfully, Emma Corrin steals every scene they’re in. As Marion Taylor, Corrin is all quiet affection and subtle looks, but the tender, almost shy way Corrin plays the character has a magical way of catching your eye and demanding attention.
My Policeman tells the story of the forbidden love triangle between Marion, Tom and Patrick (played by David Dawson). In London in the 1050s, Marion and Tom strike up an exciting new relationship, even while Tom and Patrick are falling in love in secret — an illegal relationship they’re forced to hide for fear of being beaten and/or arrested. The trio form a beautiful friendship, going to museums and the opera together every day, singing and dancing in pubs at night, sharing their hopes and dreams. But there’s a secret at the centre of their friendship that threatens to ruin them all if they’re not careful.
Although Tom is the movie’s main character, Marion is its beating heart. My Policeman starts from her perspective — first in 1999 when she’s played by Gina McKee and then when the movie jumps back to 1957 with Corrin in the role — a move that helps establish the character as being equally important as the two leading men. And while McKee is fabulous as an older and wiser Marion, it’s specifically Corrin’s performance that’s so evocative, thanks in part to her history of playing women in doomed love stories in period pieces.
Corrin has the same understated magnificence in their other work. It’s a combination, I think, of mannerisms and behaviours that are unusual to see on screens, where characters are often hammered into the public consciousness via big, bombastic personalities. Instead of quippy one liners and easy smiles, Corrin disarms you with soft sideways glances and lopsided smirks. Their acting appeals to you on an instinctive level and watching them makes you feel like something’s not quite right — until you realise that it’s not Corrin or Marion, it’s the situation.
Marion inhabits a world that delights in promising women a better future with one hand and reinforcing patriarchal ideals with the other. She’s too shy to start a conversation with Tom, and is happy enough drifting along in their unspoken relationship because it’s what Tom seems to want. Then when he proposes, she’s surprised that he even likes her enough to marry her. Corrin is heartbreaking to watch in these scenes, all doe eyes and sad silences, an understated performance that emphasises the conflict of being a woman at the time.
Despite their talent for embodying women in period pieces, Corrin is a modern star through and through, quickly and steadily amassing a dedicated following of young fans after their breakthrough. And while there’s something to be said about whether the world really needs another queer heartbreak story, My Policeman benefits from having Corrin, who’s queer and uses they/them pronouns, openly queer man Dawson and Styles, who’s famously ambiguous about his sexuality, in the lead roles.
Despite a brilliant performance by Dawson and the star power of Styles, it’s Corrin who captured my attention in every scene they were in and really sold me on the glitz, glamour and forced repression of 1950s London.
My Policeman is now streaming on Prime Video. Start your free 30-day Prime Video trial today.