Written by: April Prince
Based on the novel of the same name by author E.M. Forster, My Policeman is the story of three people who reunite in 1999 decades after their whirlwind time together in 1957. This project has courted a lot of attention, due to the LGBTQ themes in the story and also due to the casting of singer Harry Styles as the titular policeman in this tale. It purports to be a story of love, exploration, and the varied ways love can show itself; let’s see if My Policeman handles its themes with the care and sensitivity they require and gives moviegoers the romance they’ve been promised.
This tale follows our three leads Marion (Gina McKee), Tom (Linus Roache), and Patrick (Rupert Everett). Marion is a schoolteacher who’s married to a policeman named Tom. In the early days of their courtship, Tom introduces Marion to Patrick as a means of impressing her by taking her to a museum. It’s through this introduction that we begin to see the development of this throuple.
Patrick accompanies Marion and Tom on their dates and even their out-of-town trips. This, however, is just the story on the surface. Though Marion and Tom seem to have this loving relationship, Tom and Patrick also have their own connection aside from the one Tom has with Marion. Running in parallel, even throughout Tom and Marion’s marriage, is Tom and Patrick’s love story.
The thing that sprinkles that extra bit of something onto the movie is that we’re seeing two versions of these characters. The ones in 1957 are young and passionately in love; the older versions of the characters in 1999 are weathered by the years and introspective about how they’ve spent their lives and what could have been had circumstances been different. See, while Marion remembers the early years of her relationship and marriage to Tom, she doesn’t know about Tom and Patrick — not until she discovers Patrick’s journal and reads about the love story that blossomed right along with her own.
In terms of performances, there is some good material here. Patrick is played by both Rupert Everett and David Dawson, Marion is played by Gina McKee and Emma Corrin, and Tom is played by Linus Roache and Harry Styles. Rupert Everett does a great job, of course; that’s to be expected. Gina McKee does a good job as well, and Linus Roache also gives a good performance.
In terms of the younger actors, Emma Corrin and David Dawson have good handles on their roles and it shows throughout their scenes. What people were really intrigued by when this film was announced is the casting of Harry Styles. This will be Styles’ third outing in a major film role after Dunkirk in 2017 and the recently released, and controversial, Don’t Worry Darling. It’s clear to see the gradual growth of his acting ability, but he’s not quite at Oscar level yet. That’s not to say that he doesn’t hold his own in this film, though. He leans into some odd choices when it comes to line delivery, but it’s nothing that makes for an overall unpleasant viewing experience. It’ll be interesting to see how he further develops his onscreen talents and if perhaps he can bring some of that onstage charm and charisma to his acting roles in the future.
Another of the major components for viewer intrigue came from the themes of hiding one’s same-sex attraction and the way attitudes of different time periods play into how people of that time navigate sexual and romantic exploration. While 2022 has come a long way in acceptance and freedom of attraction, the 1950s were not as welcoming. This film seeks to tackle that fact and does so by way of the dynamic between our three main leads.
It’s even hinted at in the title: My Policeman. Both Marion and Patrick have their own versions of Tom that they love, but Tom is essentially splitting himself between two worlds and has to balance these two sides of himself lest he fall victim to the bigotry and violence that many LGBTQ people were in danger of back then (and sometimes still are).
There’s been criticism that the film doesn’t tackle these themes with the best care and tact that they require, but for what the film is, it doesn’t necessary fumble them either. My Policeman sits in a comfortable spot of acknowledging a difficult time period but also focusing on telling a nuanced and interesting tale of love and secrecy.
The film was released in theaters to wider audiences on October 21, 2022, and will be hitting streaming on November 4 when it’s released on Prime Video. So, if you’re interested in period pieces with passionate romances and complicated character dynamics, perhaps My Policeman is the movie for you.
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Gamer, anime fan, and lover of TV and movies. I've been a writer since 2017.