Harry Styles’ second of two films coming out this fall, My Policeman, is hitting theaters today after its world premiere at TIFF last month. For better or worse, much of the attention will be on Styles and his performance after the so-so one he gave in Don’t Worry Darling. Does he give an arresting performance in My Policeman? Not precisely, and My Policeman suffers from uneven performances and pacing that’ll borderline put you to sleep.
The film opens with Marion (Gina McKee) taking on the responsibility of caring for an old friend, Patrick (Rupert Everett). It’s a bit of a struggle and as we’ll come to see, there are tensions between Marion, Patricka and Tom (Linus Roache). From there, the film begins intertwining flashes from the past that show the relationship these three had in their younger years. I want to flag that the older actors are good too, they’re just oftentimes used as a transition frame as we segue back into the past. Only in the beginning and very end do they really get room to work.
Marion, Patrick and Tom — played by Emma Corrin, David Dawson and Styles, respectively — were a happy group of friends in the 1950s. They’d go out to the museum Patrick worked at, drop in at each other’s houses and go to recitals (much to the chagrin of Tom) as a group. Patrick and Tom, however, begin forming a tighter bond which becomes tricky for a variety of reasons (the public opinion on homosexuality at the time and Tom and Marion’s marriage especially jump out). But as Patrick recites from his favorite novel, love is “tragic.”
And that central conflict is the most interesting part of My Policeman; it’s just a shame it takes so long to get there. It’s understandable that the early moments of the film there to establish some sort of tension between the main trio in their elder years (and Tom being kicked in his netherregions while teaching Marion how to swim), but the first half-hour of the film largely feels irrelevant because of the snail’s pace it crawls at. By the time anything relatively interesting begins happening, we’re knee-deep into this near-two-hour film.
I know that the main reason you’re likely here is Styles’ performance. As indicated, this isn’t an arresting performance that makes you think “There’s a star,” but he’s not god-awful. I think his performance as the young Tom is on-par with his in Don’t Worry Darling, even up to the whiney tantrums he throws. I think his average performances in dramatic scenes are passable, but he’s no Al Pacino when he has an outburst on-screen. It’s awfully hard to take anyone when they’re in a fit of rage and huffing and puffing and look like they’re about to blow the house down.
At least he doesn’t have a viral moment like this in My Policeman. I think Styles is just a serviceable actor that exceeds expectations when sharing the screen with someone who can carry him through it. In My Policeman, he often leans on Corrin and Dawson, who do so to great results. Dawson has good chemistry with Styles, though that’s about as far as the film will let him go given the dependency his character has on Styles’. Corrin gives an exceptional performance all things considered. The moments where she sees something she likely wishes that she hadn’t are heartbreaking. My only nitpick is that I’m not sure whether or not something Marion does is supposed to be a “twist” or not. If so, it’s terribly telegraphed. If not, it’s fine.
The production and costume design deserves a lot of applause, as does Steven Price’s score, particularly in the last scene of the film. More often than not, Price’s score is used as wallpaper that fails to stand out like the purple-striped wallpaper in the museum Patrick works in. It’s a damn shame because the swelling number at the end nearly brought a tear to my eye.
My Policeman is, as I overheard someone describe Ticket to Paradise (far better film), aggressively fine. I’d argue it’s a bit boring, but perhaps those that are attached to Styles or the source material will find more fulfillment in this adaptation. It’s just bland and the pacing certainly never works in its favor. A number of films into the “Water Melon Sugar” singer’s career and we’re still yet to find the role that Styles fits.
My Policeman held its world premiere at TIFF on September 11 and is in select theaters now. The film will be available to stream on Prime Video on November 4.