Tension overwhelms the unforgiving waters of the British beach town of Peacehaven, as a once romantic Marion Taylor opens her doors to an estranged friend from her youth. My Policeman begins to unravel the infidelities that plagued the early months of her marriage 40 years prior.
My Policeman, based on the book of the same name by Bethan Roberts, follows the story of Marion (Gina McKee) and Tom Burgess (Linus Roache), a retired married couple that appears to have lost all passion for each other yet chooses to remain together.
The film largely takes place in Marion’s flashbacks to the late ’50s, as romance ensues between her—a naive school teacher—and Tom, a simple policeman. But unbeknownst to young Marion (Emma Corrin), the young Tom (Harry Styles) begins a secret rendezvous with art curator Patrick Hazlewood (David Dawson) at a time when being an LGBTQ+ person was considered a crime in the United Kingdom. Patrick reappears in the present day later in the film played by Rupert Everett.
Unable to part with either, Tom introduces his innamorato to Marion under false pretenses, creating an inseparable trio influenced by deceit and agonizing infatuation.
Despite such a compelling storyline, the subpar acting of leading man Styles waters down the film’s plot. Styles is still riding the high off the premiere of Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling, a movie in which his acting choices have been called into question. The pop singer’s acting is characterized by some as dull and unremarkable despite unwavering admiration from his doting fanbase.
His acting in My Policeman is no exception and is an injustice to the work of Roache, who compels the audience with his portrayal of a deep-seated resentment toward both lovers. Styles, on the other hand, acts with a monotone voice throughout the film and garners a mind-numbing lack of chemistry with both of his love interests.
To say that Tom and Marion’s initial, uncomplicated romance feels as bland and humiliating as that of middle school sweethearts would be an understatement. Meanwhile, Tom and Patrick’s attempts at lustful passion read as overtly aggressive and uncomfortable as the two flail and grasp in sex scenes for longer than anyone can bear.
Not all the blame can fall on Styles’ lack of acting experience, however. With matter-of-fact dialogue and blunt scene transitions, the production and writing of the movie is average at best, with only picturesque close-ups to make up for it.
Despite being a fitting symbol for the trio’s tumultuous dynamic, a movie can only be made up of so many shots of empty beaches.
After a dragging on for 113 perplexing minutes, this film is, at best, another recent stain on the trail of poorly made queer media continuing to capitalize on the historic suffering of LGBTQ+ people.