My Policeman is a melancholy and romantic tale set in the 1950s – here’s our review of the Harry Styles and Emma Corrin-led drama.
Harry Styles, Emma Corrin and David Dawson lead the cast of the melancholy and subdued My Policeman. Based on the novel by Bethan Roberts and set in 1950s England, Styles stars as PC Tom Burgess, with The Crown's Emma Corrin playing schoolteacher Marion, who is immediately attracted to him. The two form a close friendship that’s on the verge of something more, yet their relationship moves so slowly Marion begins to worry her feelings aren’t reciprocated. In the midst of all this, Tom introduces Marion to museum curator Patrick (David Dawson), and the trio become close friends.
However, Tom is keeping a secret – one that’s a central part of the film’s plot and would be a spoiler to discuss.
In the present day, an older Tom and Marion (now married) take in a disabled Patrick who’s just suffered a stroke. It’s clear that they haven’t spoken in years and Tom is strongly opposed to him being there. Using Patrick’s diaries as a (rather predictable and played out) framing device, Marion reminisces on their past as the film slowly unveils what happened to break the three of them apart.
Set around Brighton, My Policeman makes the most of some beautifully picturesque seaside views. Unfortunately, there’s very little sun to be found. As the film progresses it takes on a murky, cold tone that really dampens the vibrancy of the landscapes. It may be intended to reflect the sad story it’s telling, but paired with a stately pace and subdued performances from almost all involved lead to this tale feeling like a dulled version of the emotionally powerful story and colourful period piece it could have been.
It takes a while to get to its main plot point, but when it does it’s emotional, impactful and incredibly nuanced. Each character has their own internal struggles, and each is sympathetic in their own way. The majority of the central characters also have moments where they make the wrong decisions or say the wrong thing. By the end we can clearly see a trio of complex and flawed people mixed up in an even more complicated situation.
While the characters are skillfully written, the performances don’t massively help them. Harry Styles may be one of the world’s biggest pop stars, but he displays little of that charisma here. Often he seems almost nonchalant about the fact that he’s in a film, saying the lines but with no real conviction. Likewise Corrin, who’s perhaps best known for playing Princess Diana in Netflix’s The Crown, is rather sombre as Marion. Even when the character meets and is immediately smitten with Tom, there’s not particularly any enthusiasm radiating from her.
My Policeman feels like it was aiming to be a grand, moving period drama. Instead we have a melancholy and muted version of this that lacks personality and charm. Despite this, it’s worth experiencing simply because of the nuance with which it presents its main themes and plot points, but it does feel like an opportunity just a little missed.
My Policeman is streaming on Amazon Prime Video from 4th November, and played at the London Film Festival.
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