After suffering a severe stroke, Patrick Hazlewood (Rupert Everett) is taken in by a couple he used to be acquainted with in his youth. While Marion (Gina McKee) fully devotes herself to his care, Tom (Linus Roache) goes out of his way to avoid the man now living in his home. As Marion comes across Patrick’s diaries, she too reminisces about the events that transpired in 1958, first bringing the trio together, then causing an irreparable tear between them.
While it’s evident from the promotional material that the story centres around a love triangle, the exact dynamics establish themselves at the end of the film’s first act and prove a rather anticlimactic choice. With the energy Patrick brings to Marion and Tom’s blossoming relationship, the first set of flashbacks teases a more evolved understanding of polyamory. Unfortunately, this notion is nipped in the bud as the feature fizzles out into a rigid run-of-the-mill portrayal of a closeted husband’s infidelity and is needlessly cruel to its female protagonist.
The established actors involved in this literary adaptation are not given their due. Everett, who demonstrated his personal interest in historical figures of the LGBTQIA+ community with The Happy Prince (which he wrote, directed and starred in), is criminally underused. There was an equally great opportunity to shine the light on Linus Roache, as he revisits a character with a similar crisis of faith as his breakout role in Antonia Bird’s Priest.
Instead, director Michael Grandage values fan service over substance, prioritising a depiction of the young version of the eponymous policeman, played by Harry Styles. However the internal struggle of being an enforcer of a law that criminalises your very identity – neither Tom’s occupation nor the time and place My Policeman is set in is arbitrary – is not addressed to its full potential in either timeline.
What works to Styles’s advantage is that this time one cannot single out his acting, as the performances are altogether rather underwhelming. There is a languidness to the script as if the umpteenth copy of a copy had not only weakened the ink with which they were printed but the strength of the words themselves.
Had the film been made and released in a time before the subject of queer representation in media had reached mainstream discourse, one could have easily forgiven its lack of nuance and its “straight gaze”. As it is, this Amazon Studios production feels jarringly outdated and ineffectual.
My Policeman is released is in UK cinemas on 21st October 2022 and available on Amazon Prime on 4th November 2022.
Watch the trailer for My Policeman here: