What she doesn’t know is the true nature of Patrick and Tom’s relationship – a love affair which they have to keep secret, as any form of sexual contact between men at that time was classed as “gross indecency” and against the law.
Some 40 or so years later Marian is welcoming Patrick, now severely disabled by a stroke, into her home to be cared for. Marian and Tom are still married but Tom refuses to have anything to do with his former lover, spending much of his time striding amongst the rocks with his dog on the nearby beach. So what happened fifty years ago that still haunts the trio? Moving between the two eras, director Michael Grandage skilfully tells their story and why the past still impacts on them half a century later.
Gina McKee as older Marian, softened over the years from her younger self (Emma Corrin), gradually reveals the story, as while nursing Patrick, she discovers his diary, which reveals the depth of his love for the man he describes as “my policeman”. Harry Styles give young Tom a touchingly innocent quality as the character discovers his true sexuality. The contrast between the passion of his relationship with Patrick and the more mundane nature of his affection for Marian is sadly touching. Linus Roach plays older Tom as a man understandably inarticulate at expressing emotion.
The ones who will really break your heart though are David Dawson as younger Patrick and Rupert Everett as his physically paralysed older self. Everett, with only his eyes and a few limited words to play with, touchingly conveys his yearning for his lost love along with occasional flashes of his former mischievous self.
Dawson carries much of the weight of film, as the victim of the cruel legislation of the time which turned gay men into criminals and forced them to hide their true selves from the world. Dawson, a well known stage and tv actor in his first major big screen role, is just mesmerising.
This is not only a gripping and touching human story, it is a reminder of a shameful aspect of our history, which was still in place a mere two or three generations ago.