My Policeman will only be acknowledged for Harry Styles but offers an insight into the guilt of bearded heterosexual relationships of the mid-twentieth century.
My Policeman, directed by Michael Grandage hails an all-star cast of Harry Styles, David Dawson, Emma Corrin, Linus Roache, Gina McKee and Rupert Everett in the cinematic adaption of the book by the same name.
My Policeman was screened as part of the London Film Festival 2022. All words of this review were written entirely by the writers at Cinamore.
At its simplest, the story of My Policeman revolves around Brightonian policeman Tom (Styles/Roache) who despite falling in love with Patrick (Dawson/Everett) forms a relationship with Marion (Corrin/McKee) to prevent suspicion of losing his career during a time where homosexuality was illegal.
Told through flashbacks of the 1950s and contemporary moments in the 1990s, the characters explore their relationships with each other both in the past and present and how their history lingers into uncomfortable silences, guilt and longing for not only their youth but also to be accepted.
Unfortunately with Harry Styles being the largest name on the roster of talent, this will draw critics’ attention to the former One Direction singer’s ability to act, that will of course be then compared against Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling, which considering a point of drama in the film takes place in Venice adds to the irony of the comparison.
Doing so, in my opinion, is unfair, as while Styles is a new performer, having only previously starred in Don’t Worry Darling and Dunkirk, he is clearly unwavering to grow his oeuvre, and therefore, comparing against his previous works is reductive as it prevents an audience from accepting him in a role and acknowledging the story or its characters.
As such, I believe in truly commenting on Harry Styles’ performance in-depth would be unfair to the singer-turned-actor. There are moments of course where his Mancunian accent is noticeably jarring against the Sussex voices of Corrin and Dawson, however, his delivery of a naive innocent conflicted officer is believable and done so with conviction.
Though in truth, to pair Styles alongside Emma Corrin, who delivered a truly spellbinding performance as the young Princess Diana in Netflix’s The Crown, and David Dawson, the star of the ITV docu-drama, The Road to Coronation Street, based on Tony Warren’s creation of the same show, was, of course, going to create a noticeable difference in delivery that is going to be a point of contention.
It is Dawson who excels in this film beyond any other with his role of Patrick, a learned museum curator whose appreciation of art both in the human body and in works by Turner, William Blake and classical music raises eyebrows from conservative Marion but continues to live his life unashamedly of his identity.
Whilst My Policeman is by no means a strong film, what it achieves is a dissection of societal pressures in a seaside town post-war and how many closeted men, much like Tom, found solace in marrying for the illusion of evading prison when homosexuality was illegal.
Reminding me a great deal of Tom Ford’s debut A Single Man, it is always welcome for any film that highlights the generational trauma of closeted homosexuality, and how for many, opting to marry was in fact a prison sentence in and of itself.
If therefore, My Policeman gains a larger expected audience reach with its inclusion of Harry Styles as opposed to any other male lead, I commend it for educating audiences on a topic that many may not know about.
My Policeman is, as mentioned, not a film that makes waves, however, it is charming with its delivery both in its flashback, and contemporary sequences.
While personally, I would have preferred to have seen more opportunities for Rupert Everett to showcase the talent we expect from him, one of the final shots with Everett and both Roache and Styles was beautifully poignant and acutely summarises the regret, pain and love the characters held for each other over the years.
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