Review: My Policeman (2022) -Everything Old Is Still Old

David Dawson, Emma Corrin and Harry Styles in My Policeman

Willing to leave Don’t Worry Darling in the rear-view mirror and move on to other opportunities, Harry Styles latest feature, My Policeman, is not the star making vehicle that many hoped it would be. It has excellent performances and a loving tone that carries through all of its flashback sequences and a strong grasp on the story it is telling but much like other films with a split timeline, it never feels like either is connected to the other in any real way. Director Michael Grandage with the assistance of some excellent editing by Chris Dickens has done his best to mesh his two casts into one story but it is ultimately the underplayed and never fully fleshed out performances of his older cast that drag the whole thing down.

Telling the story of the doomed love triangle of schoolteacher Marion (Emma Corrin/Gina McKee), Policeman Tom (Harry Styles/Linus Roache) and museum curator Patrick (David Dawson/Rupert Everett), the film follows the quietly married but unhappy Marion and Tom as they bring Patrick to live with them following a stroke he hasn’t recovered from. As Tom fights against having him there, Marion revisits the events of the past that led them to this point and her guilt and rage from what happened when they were young.

While it is a tightly structured story, one that successfully plays with time as it establishes Marion and Tom’s story only to flashback to Patrick and Tom’s concurrent love story, McKee, Roache and Everett are given little to do other than play on the mannerisms of Corrin, Styles and Dawson. While Everett gives a committed and tragic performance as the older Patrick as he balks against his recovery, fully encapsulating the indignation of being physically unable to do anything, there is not much more to be done than play out the nature of his decrepitude.

However, when Marion turns to Patrick’s diary’s and Grandage softly transitions into the past with its warm colour palette and tale of hidden love and eventual betrayal, it is hard not to fall for the charms of Dawson and Corrin’s performances. While Styles here is an improvement on his prior work, he still feels miscast. An obvious choice in a film that is trying to be unexpected and surprising. There is a blandness to his performance that doesn’t let the picture down but does mute the stellar work being done besides him. Corrin in particular gives Marrion a quiet empathy for both the men in her life despite the rage that quietly destroys her. Dawson on the other hand is all pride and bravado, with a quiet fear behind his eyes, its an awards worthy turn by the up-and-coming actor that begs to be seen.

Although structurally it doesn’t quite work, Grandage visuals make the transitions from past to present feel less jarring as he uses the grey of modern-day Brighton to juxtapose against that of the 1950s. Although the script here feels a little basic, a bare bones adaptation of the book by Bethan Roberts, filled in more through the performances than the words spoken or any of their actions. In the end it feels like a script that is almost finished but overrunning and cut for time and despite the slow methodical storytelling, My Policeman is never dull, and I would have happily enjoyed these characters a little while longer. Because of this, a enjoyable story ends up feeling empty, relying on an ending that never feels earnt.

TSR

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