My Policeman is a queer period drama based on a time when being queer was illegal. Directed by Michael Grandage, the cast promised greatness following the spectacular performances and successes of Harry Styles and Emma Corin with Don’t Worry Darling (2022) and The Crown (2016) respectively. The movie was also expected to stand at par with other movies of the same genre like Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019). Could it though? No. Not at all. Let us review the happenings in My Policeman and figure out what didn’t seem to work well.
Bad decisions snowballing into worse ones
Tom Burgess (Harry Styles), a policeman, discovers his homosexuality with the aid of his friend, Patrick Hazelwood (David Dawson) and finds love in him. Tom once asks Patrick if he ever thinks about marriage. But the thing is, he isn’t asking about their marriage, since being gay was illegal at the time and Tom, being a policeman himself, couldn’t break the law.
What he does instead is that he romances, or more like lies to Marion Taylor (Emma Corin) and marries her in order to tuck away any rumors that could come up questioning his sexuality and relationship with Patrick, who became the third wheel in their relationship. Tom’s love for Patrick never really let him truly love Marion the way she dreamt to be loved. A chaotic dynamic and the consequent set of events ensued, which further led to the destruction of the loving relationship they shared in those testing times, and also ruined the marriage, or the arrangement Tom and Marion were in.
Incompetence of the writers leading to a major setback
Where the writers had the potential to actually tap into the depth of characters and their emotions, they chose to revolve around just the superficial elements of it like lust, jealousy, and agony. The story could have been so rich and enthralling but it seemed to have missed the mark with the mechanical writing. It was too fast to give any emotion time to develop or surface.
The way the lead (Tom Burgess) was portrayed, failed to capture the love of the audience. With a story written well, the most evil of the characters can have the hearts of the audience. Like Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter for instance. Evil? Yes. Heartthrob? Also yes.
Again, all those who have read the books know him solely as the bad guy and fail to understand why people love him. The author, J. K. Rowling herself said she doesn’t understand how people grew fond of him. This is where the difference in the writing and portrayal of the same character is best visible. While the books show him to be wicked and having zero regrets, the movies show him as a person who didn’t want to do what he did but was made to. That’s why he managed to win over everyone in the total of 31 minutes and 45 seconds of screen time that his character gets in all of the movies combined.
Tom Burgess on the other hand was basically the villain here with everything going wrong due to his selfishness, while the writers try to explain how he was the victim of circumstance and have people not loathe him further and Styles’ amateurish, but excusable acting, seemed to not help his cause much either.
In the movie, Marion finds Patrick’s diary in what is shown as the later years of the movie. A very good opportunity for a plot twist. Yet, disappointingly, there was none. Everything just went in the exact same direction still. David Dawson and Gina McKee (seen as old Marion) are the only 2 characters who seem to be giving the story some depth with their characters, pulling the loose ends of the act together.
Alluding to the core of the theme
My Policeman portrays a sweet love story that strives to subsist and serves as a reminder of the times when barbarous laws affected the LGBTQ+ community. Those who were found violating the laws were brutally punished. Anyone born in those times who tried to lead a normal life and to fulfill their most basic needs like that of finding love, happiness, and to have a family was criminalized.
In one of the scenes in the later years of the movie, Tom Burgess (Linus Roache) is seen crying after seeing a young gay couple in a store, walking around freely and holding hands without any fear. He thinks about the life he and Patrick could have had if only they could have been born 40 years later. All the moments of togetherness and happiness that were stolen from them due to the unjust systems and how their lives were wrecked when they could have simply led a very normal life like the rest of the people, without having to live through all the tragedy that they experienced despite never actually doing anything to deserve the same.
Should you watch My Policeman
Ultimately, My Policeman isn’t a bad movie as such but it’s just not what it could have been and that’s what disappoints. The writers missed out on how immersive and engaging the characters and the plot could have been. It is a one time watch though, if you can leave your expectations aside. The cast did a good job, with David Dawson’s performance standing out. The camera angles were on point and the outfits were impressive. For those who wish to watch the film, it is now finally available for streaming on Amazon Prime, after its initial theatrical release.
|Stars||Harry Styles, Emma Corin, David Dawson, Linus Roache, Gina McKee, Rupert Everett|
|Running time||1 hour 53 minutes|
|Release date||4th November 2022 (worldwide release on amazon prime)|
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