Michael Grandage got his start on the stage, first as an actor in the Royal Shakespeare Company, and then, as a director, making his debut in 1996 with a production of Arthur Miller's The Last Yankee. He won both the Laurence Olivier Award and the Tony for Best Director before venturing into filmmaking.
"It's sometimes quite difficult when you're coming from the theater, as I did, because cinema is such a different medium," admits Grandage. "Theater is all about words, but cinematically, you're longing to tell stories without words."
Grandage's sophomore feature, the period romance My Policeman, centers on British police officer Tom (Harry Styles), who is married to Marion (Emma Corrin) but is having an affair with Patrick (David Dawson) during a time when it was illegal to be gay. Cinematically, the director needed to balance the intimacy between the couples with all that is left unspoken.
Below, Grandage shares with A.frame the three films that most influenced My Policeman, "in me wanting to use bits of them or talking to the actors about why certain scenes could work in certain ways," he explains. "They were part of the language."
Where to Watch: The Criterion Channel
Directed by: Alain Resnais | Written by: Marguerite Duras
When approaching the intimacy, I asked all of the actors to look at Hiroshima Mon Amour. The opening sequence of that film is quite impactful with the sculptural use of hands on flesh. And it had quite a lasting impact with me and with all my work — how expressive hands can be in storytelling even without dialogue. So, I asked them all to look at that. I wanted the exploration, particularly with the men, to be about quite literally that. In Tom's case, it is probably the first time he'd ever slept with a man and he's exploring male flesh. Even though it's not in any way a gay-themed film, I wanted them to watch it so that we could all talk about two things: The choreographic nature of it, and the sculptural nature of it.
Directed by: Nicolas Roeg | Written by: Allan Scott and Chris Bryant
There is the quite famous extended intimacy scene in Don't Look Now, which, just when you think you've seen enough of the intimacy scene, it goes on. And then, it goes on. And then, it goes on. But, in that case, it's also intercut with a non-intimacy scene. So, there is more to look at than just the intimacy scene. But it's the extended nature of that scene and how it plays with intimacy beyond a physical act. It's the exploration of the bodies and how they really go at it for an extended period of time. You go, 'Wow, this is something else,' because you can't quite believe the nature of what he was doing.
Also, because Nick Roeg was shooting all those scenes in Venice, when we were going to Venice, I asked if we could be in one of the same locations, as a kind of gentle homage. The film is full of gentle and affectionate homages to things that have been important to me over many, many years.
Directed by: Joseph Losey | Written by: Harold Pinter
Joseph Losey's masterpiece, The Servant, is another film about class and sex. And was a hugely influential piece. In it, there is this extraordinary convex mirror that sits above the mantlepiece, and it's like a voyeur witnessing Dirk Bogarde and James Fox and these extraordinary images Losey created up against that mirror.
I asked our designer, Maria Djurkovic, to put in a little convex mirror in Patrick's hallway, because I knew that, when the two men kissed for the first time, I wanted that to be captured in the mirror looking at them. Again, it's nothing more than an affectionate nod to a film that had a huge influence on me when I was a young man. Because of what he didn't say, because of what it didn't express. It was all beneath the surface, very English, very restrained, very much about something hidden, something unspoken. And yet, this mirror is observing everything.