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‘My Policeman’ is a devastating tale of lost love

‘My Policeman’ is a devastating tale of lost love

‘My Policeman’ is a devastating tale of lost love
October 29
16:00 2022

Despite its nearly 2-hour runtime, “My Policeman” fails to develop characters who can keep up with its compelling subject matter. Emma Corrin and David Dawson are standouts in an array of forgettable performances which ultimately results in a flat attempt at an intimate drama.

Still, “My Policeman” is engaging and fresh — a rare find in the era of reboots and superhero blockbusters. Based on Bethan Roberts’ 2012 novel of the same name, the film debuted in limited theaters on Oct. 21 and will land on Amazon Prime Video on Nov. 5. 

“My Policeman” is a carefully crafted queer love story that follows a love triangle between a married couple and a mutual friend. Their story is told through a series of flashbacks to 1950s Brighton where policeman Tom Burgess is having an extramarital affair with museum curator Patrick Hazelwood.

The heart of the film exists in the heartbreaking scenes that exemplify the deep, harmful consequences of internalized misogyny and homophobia. Tom, both in flashbacks and present day, struggles to find peace with his sexuality and be vulnerable. Harry Styles’ and Linus Roache’s inscrutable approach to the character held the audience at too much of a distance.

Gina McKee, who portrayed present-day Marion, suffered the same fate. In the present day, Marion is not afraid to confront her demons, while her younger self has a sense of naivety to her. It’s a shame the credits rolled without sufficiently summarizing her journey.

Great stories can transform popular tropes of forbidden love into thought-provoking universes. While “My Policeman” is hardly immersive, its compelling moments had devastating strength. Present-day Tom breaks down in tears after seeing a gay couple holding hands in public — something unimaginable when he was a young policeman enforcing laws that criminalized homosexuality. 

With cookie-cutter romantic dramas being massed produced by streaming services, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find good, original love stories. There will always be a need for complex love stories with queer folks leading the charge.

Styles’ most recent major theatrical release, “Don’t Worry Darling,”, premiered mere weeks ago. The only similarity the films share is that Styles is the weak link of the cast. The budding of Tom and Marion’s relationship felt awkward at times. Perhaps this was to foreshadow their dissatisfactory marriage. Realistically, it’s probably because of Styles’ failure to keep up with Corrin’s delivery.

 In an interview with Harper Bazaar, Roberts described Tom as an “enigma” that Styles “fits perfectly.” It’s true — the former boy bander’s charisma onstage places him at the center of his fans’ universe. However, that energy doesn’t quite translate on screen. 

It’s not uncommon for global pop stars to make the foray onto the big screen. Considering Styles’ performance left critics questioning if he could even act, maybe this role was too ambitious for the budding actor. Tom’s journey is the center of the film. Yet, Styles’ performance was the most undercooked.

Unfortunately, “My Policeman” failed to breathe life into its complex characters. The film’s failures are in its diversion from its source material. Despite admirable efforts from most of the cast, there’s only so much one can do with an underdeveloped screenplay.

Rhema Joy’s rating: 3/5

Featured Illustration by Erika Sevilla

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Rhema Joy Bell

Rhema Joy Bell

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