My Policeman, adapted from the 2012 novel of the same name by Bethan Roberts, is a heart-warming love story that feels overwhelmingly predictable.
The film adaptation has been highly anticipated due to its star-studded cast, ranging from Rupert Everett to none other than Harry Styles. Ironically, the acting in My Policeman was perhaps the greatest downfall of the film.
Strung between two timelines, Director Michael Grandage, opens with a disorienting and fraught dynamic between husband and wife Marion (Gina McKee) and Tom (Linus Roache), alongside a bed-ridden stroke victim, Patrick (Rupert Everett). Everett’s performance is engaging from the off. Despite being unable to speak, he manages to convey years of pent-up rage and betrayal with no dialogue at all.
Thankfully, the film then takes a step back in time to 1950s Brighton to relieve the audience of their confusion. Emma Corrin plays younger Marion, and we see an awkward but delicate love story unfold between her and Tom (Harry Styles). Thankfully, Styles’ scenes are broadly limited to playing a charming young man with a handsome smile (nothing out of the ordinary for the former boy-band member). Styles is still continually upstaged by Corrin, the emotional tensions between the two actors often feeling forced and somewhat uncomfortable.
The saving grace for the younger cast is Patrick (David Dawson) the captivating art curator. His presence between the two lovers continually poses a threat to their relationship. While the first section of the film is dedicated to a heterosexual couple, after a short trip back to the present day and the older generation, we can see that all is not quite as straight as it seems.
The love story between young Tom and Patrick that follows is undeniably charming. While Styles is clearly less practiced in acting than his counterpart Dawson, the two ultimately had great on-screen chemistry, although even this was mostly orchestrated through camera angles and fleeting physical touch. Furthermore, despite poor Marion’s betrayal, you can’t help but root for the ill-fated lovers.
Additionally, the film’s presentation of deep-rooted homophobia in 1950s England is tragically realistic, speaking on marrying for “protection”, homophobic violence, and the threat of imprisonment which constantly looms in Tom’s police uniform. The strong discomfort felt in both homophobic and misogynistic scenes suggests that regardless of the occasionally weak acting, this film is a brilliant social commentary on 1950s England.
The simple and somewhat predictable story offers a satisfactory conclusion to the trio’s tumultuous lives. If you manage to make it this far, the ending is more evocative than the entire previous 1 hour and 45 minutes. My Policeman is certainly a pretty tale with beautiful panning shots of Brighton, but if you’re looking for Oscar winning performances, perhaps this isn’t the film for you.
My Policeman was released on Prime Video on November 4 and is in cinemas now.