‘My Policeman’ movie review: A cipher of a drama, much like its lead star Harry Styles

Despite impeccable credentials, good looking leads, spot-on period details and heart-wrenching love stories, Michael Grandage’s adaptation of a celebrated novel is an inexplicable slog

November 05, 2022 05:24 pm | Updated 05:24 pm IST

A still from ‘My Policeman’

A still from ‘My Policeman’

Even with all its impeccable credentials, watching My Policeman is an uninvolving slog. For his second feature, celebrated theatre director, Michael Grandage chooses Bethan Roberts’ 2012 novel of the same name. That the screenplay is written by Ron Nyswaner, with Oscar, BAFTA and Primetime Emmy Award nominations under his belt, makes the plodding pace of My Policeman even more inexplicable.  

My Policeman 
Director: Michael Grandage 
Cast: Harry Styles, Emma Corrin, Gina McKee, Linus Roache, David Dawson, Rupert Everett 
Storyline: The difficulties of a love that must not be named in 1950s Brighton 
Run time: 113 minutes   

Set in two timelines — the present and 1950s Brighton — My Policeman tells the story of Tom (Harry Styles), a policeman who falls in love with a suave museum curator Patrick (David Dawson). At the same time, he is courting a sweet school teacher, Marion (Emma Corrin). When his boss tells him that bachelors do not go very far in their careers, he decides to marry Marion.  

As a policeman, Tom’s decision to marry Marion could also have been informed by the rampant homophobia of the time — homosexuality was legalised in England and Wales in 1967.  

In the present, Patrick (Rupert Everett) has had a stroke and Marion (Gina McKee) brings him home to stay much against Tom’s (Linus Roache) wishes. As Marion reads Patrick’s diaries, we learn of their doomed love stories.  

There is much scope for love, longing, and its envious sister, resentment, in My Policeman—none of which comes through in any of the admittedly pretty frames. There is also something studied about the framing and dialogues, which does not do the film any favours.  

“Taste is simply knowing how something makes you feel,” Patrick tells Tom, then asking him how does the Turner painting they are standing in front of make him feel. Later, when Tom brings Marion to the museum for a guided tour with Patrick, the three stand in front of the painting in crushing solemnity. And just in case we did not get it the first time, we are brought back to the scene with Tom and Patrick casting meaningful glances behind Marion’s back. Ditto for the opera scene. 

The movie is not helped by the acting either. Only Dawson is arresting as he switches effortlessly between sophistication, desire, hurt and hunger. Corrin continues to be in Lady Diana mode not revealing anything under their fringe and lashes beyond a certain sly coyness. Styles, whose character’s motivations are the most complex, does not seem up to conveying the layers.  

My Policeman, while not toe-curlingly bad, is not mind-blowingly good either or even all-round vanilla. It is a cipher, much like its lead actor. 

My Policeman is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video 

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