My Policeman

Harry Styles takes on an LGBTQI role in Prime Video film which is sincere if somewhat familiar.

Right now, everyone’s just wild about Harry.

The former One Direction star Harry Styles is riding on a wave of success thanks to his infectious pop and dashing good looks. It reminds me a lot of when Robbie Williams was unstoppable after leaving Take That although Styles has fashion panache and is already diving headlong into acting roles.

Following on from 2017’s Dunkirk and the recently-released Don’t Worry Darling, he now has a starring role in the LGBTI+ romance My Policeman.

My Policeman is based on a 2012 novel of the same name by Bethan Roberts which itself was loosely inspired by a true story.

The film is set around a trio in two time periods, starting with Marion (Gina McKee) caring for the ailing, elderly Patrick (Rupert Everett), while her husband Tom (Linus Roache) resents her bringing him back into their lives.

Most of the action takes place in 1957 when the three became devoted friends.

Young Marion (Emma Corrin) was swooning over local copper Tom (Harry Styles) as both befriended museum curator Patrick  (David Dawson). Whether swimming off pebbled beaches, poring over library books, dancing, strolling through art galleries -these three were as inseparable as Cabaret‘s Sally Bowles, Brian and Maximillian (if you know the film you’ll get it).

As we roll through the present it’s clear there has been some falling out.

“We didn’t settle it, we just stopped talking about it,” Marion tells Tom.

It’s also clear that the relationship between Tom and Henry, who met with a knock on an old Policeman’s box, was something other than platonic. Having a man in uniform may be something of a fantasy for Henry, but it was an opening to a whole new -dangerous- world for Tom. Being a closeted copper in 1950s England could be career-ending, if not certain incarceration.

“How do you do it? Live this life?” Tom asks Henry.

The film includes hot and steamy M2M sex scenes, doubtless under the gaze of an intimacy co-ordinator- and Styles does not hold back in playing the role with authenticity.

Yet while there’s various levels of admiration / voyeurism / fantasy in watching Harry snogging, it’s hard to ignore the third wheel in this relationship and the travesty that awaits the blissfully ignorant Marion.

That’s as much as I’ll detail of the plot….

Produced by Greg Berlanti and directed by Michael Grandage, this is a film with its heart in the right place. It’s handsomely photographed, evocative of the era, with a few woozy torch songs thrown in for good measure.

The six leads all deliver sincere performances, with Styles holding his own against more seasoned performers. He takes to this acting like a duck to water, obviously a born performer. Points to him as a bonafide star in undertaking such a role. That’s how you win cred and maybe an acting nomination along the way -although I suspect they will come for future roles rather than this specifically.

Both women, McKee and Corrin, are strong in unforgiving roles and it’s worth noting both Everett and Roache have appeared in seminal LGBTQI+ films, Another Country and Priest, respectively. Both were better films than My Policeman which is a crowd-pleaser, if largely a downer at the same time.

Despite the noble performances and the care with which the material is handled, it’s not breaking new ground, and feels like every other well-told, well-acted movie I’ve seen in a long line of queer film festivals. So many of those invariably include the closet, finding Mr. Right / Mr. Right Now and coming out.

It leaves me to ponder what this film may be most remembered for long after the applause, which I reckon will be for Styles’ authentic portrayal of a queer, closeted copper.

His career is on an upward trajectory and you can see what all the fuss is about.

My Policeman is now screening on Prime Video.

9 Responses

  1. I’m curious to see what Harry Styles brings to this role. I found him almost comically out of his depth alongside Florence Pugh in ‘Don’t Worry, Darling’

  2. I recently read an NBC news item dated August 24 2022, that stated: Styles (when performing as a singer) known for his gender-fluid fashion emulating icons David Bowie and Mick Jagger before him, has fielded harsh criticism of queerbaiting – when one benefits from appearing as queer without claiming the community explicitly. Styles has previously called the need to define one’s sexuality ”outdated” in an interview with Better Homes and Gardens. This story reminded me of ‘Doctor in the House’ star Barry Evans who also endured media scrutiny about his sexuality during his TV career, if times were more open during the 1960’s his later life as an ex TV actor taxi driver may not have been as tragic for him in the end.

    1. Could I also recommend a film called ‘In From the Side’ currently playing nationally at the British Film Festival about a forbidden romance in an all inclusive Rugby team?

      I’ve been on a roll latley watching ‘Firebird’ and ‘Bros’ but I’m a bit apprehsive about watching this if there’s a tragic ending.

    2. ‘The Man with the Answers’ on SBS On Demand is an amazing movie, except that the film deal with sexuality as a major issue. One of the best movies of the year.

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