Starring Harry Styles, Rupert Everett, Gina McKee, Linus Roache, Emma Corrin, and David Dawson
Director Michael Grandage’s interpretation of Bethan Roberts’s “My Policeman” is an old fashion “looking back” film. Reminiscent of those stories within story structures prevalent in the ’90s like “Bridges of Madison County,” “The Notebook,” etc. The script sticks to the romance element of the story, only briefly touching on the laws and constraints of the 1950s. You will find little originality in a story about repressed homosexuality that hasn’t been more powerful or creative elsewhere (“Brokeback Mountain, “Carol”). Still, “My Policeman” has its charms, plus Harry Styles, which should draw a crowd of his fans. Emma Corrin, who played Princess Diana in “The Crown,” is again the wife caught in a love triangle. The global pop star continues to hone his craft as an actor following “Don’t Worry Darling” and “Dunkirk.”
“Can you share me,” Tom Burgess (Styles) asks of his partner Patrick Hazelwood (Dawson)? A young policeman in 1957 Brighton has fallen in love with another man, a museum curator, who is more experienced in navigating laws forbidding same-sex relationships. However, Tom is also in a relationship with a young schoolteacher, Marion (Corrin). She is sweet, innocent, and ignorant of the world’s ways and adores Tom with her being in her body. Tom juggles both relationships, even bringing the two together under one big happy friendship until he marries Marion. Married life doesn’t play out as she expected, and jealousy causes her to take an action she will regret for the rest of her life.
The problem with these “looking back” stories is that one segment is always more interesting than the other.
When the story centers around Styles, Corrin, and Dawson in the 50s, the pace moves well, and the performances keep our attention. The problem with these “looking back” stories is that one segment is always more interesting than the other. The same characters in their 60’s, played by Linus Roache, Gina McKee, and Rupert Everett, relieving their past, can’t compete. Not suggesting aging the young actors under mounds of prosthetics was the way to go. Still, it isn’t easy to imagine the younger counterparts aging into the chosen actors. The cinematography soars as the boys openly hide their love beneath the cliffs of Dover or sequestered in Patrick’s lavish apartment. It then intentionally takes a stuffy, locked-in approach for the elder characters shuffling around a house of resentment.
“My Policeman” lacks a cinematic voice to say anything new about its subject matter or romance. It adds nothing to the discussions or discourse in the LGBT film world. Grandage’s biggest failure as a director is never giving us a reason to choose the movie over the book. It wants to be something similar to “Atonement” yet doesn’t have the pedigree to get there. Like so many romance films, its most valuable takeaway is reminding viewers that life is too short to be unhappy.
Final Thought – “My Policeman” is a bittersweet love triangle story that sadly has little to offer.
“My Policeman” is a bittersweet love triangle story that sadly has little to offer.