My Policeman is an emotional and visually stunning watch, yet it's average dialogue and surface level exploration stops it from reaching true greatness.
WRITTEN BY BECCA JOHNSON / NOVEMBER 4, 2022
Based on the novel of the same name by Bethan Roberts, My Policeman takes us back to 1950's Brighton, a time and place where homosexuality is still illegal. When policeman Tom (Harry Styles) meets the suave and sophisticated Patrick (David Dawson), he is completely taken by him. Despite Tom marrying the charming Marion (Emma Corrin) and wishing to start a family with her, he cannot control his immense love for Patrick, and the pair continue their secret love affair.
My Policeman gives viewers a dual timeline, allowing us to spend time with Tom, Patrick and Marion in both the 50's and present day. Luckily, both timelines are fairly interesting and provide plenty of character development which keeps the movie afloat. As we delve deeper and explore the characters pasts, the layers of their story peel back bit by bit, helping us understand them on a level that often feels personal and intimate. Although we are desperate to find out what happened all those years ago, we are also keen to see where they ended up, the script excelling in making us invested in the characters journeys. It's rare to find a dual timeline that doesn't have a preferable tense, and although much of the heavier plot occurs in the 50's timeline, the present day scenes deliver much emotion that makes My Policeman memorable.
After receiving pretty negative press after his turn in Olivia Wilde's Don't Worry Darling earlier this year, there was a lot of pressure on Harry Styles to deliver a good performance; his attempt at Tom Burgess is fine. He doesn't give a career best performance, nor the best performance of the movie, yet he is always believable and portrays the necessary emotions well. Emma Corrin is good, stepping into her complex characters shoes with ease. Corrin's Marion is torn; though she is jealous of her husbands obvious chemistry with Patrick and occasionally tries to thwart it, she loves her husband and knows Patrick makes him happy. Corrin understands this and portrays it well. The best performance of the movie comes from David Dawson as Patrick, an individual who has previously lost a partner and is hurt by that and Tom's marriage with Marion. Dawson proves he is worth keeping an eye on. Although we don't get to spend much time with them, Rupert Everett, Linus Roache and Gina McKee are great as the present day Patrick, Tom and Marion, perhaps even better than the younger versions.
With it's theme of homophobia, My Policeman could and should have had a lot to say; unfortunately, what lets this movie down is how surface level it is by the end. Although we care for our characters who all have difficult journeys, there is no wider picture, and we don't get a deep enough dive into their psyche. There is little conversation on the important themes displayed in My Policeman, and it's sometimes slow and meandering plot is crying out for some development in it's social commentary. Everything feels a little stoic and bland, from the characters to the discussions. The dialogue spoken between characters is both predictable and basic, not offering enough for the audience to sink their teeth into. It also doesn't give the actors quite enough oomph, the performances definitely would've shone even brighter with a tighter and more daring script. Not a great deal really happens, though luckily, the ending provides a gut punch of emotion which may just save the whole movie.
The Brighton setting is absolutely stunning, as are the actors; at a glance, it's a competent flick. It has a strong and powerful message, a star-studded line-up of current favourites, and a premise that appears to provide a gritty and important story. However, once you explore the movie a little further, it becomes obvious that it didn't do enough in any department. It's themes needed deeper exploration, it's script needed far more power and the actors needed a little more to do in order to fully impress. Despite having a dual timeline that feels worthwhile, My Policeman is unfortunately a little plain and boring. It's good, but it should be great.