TIFF22: ‘My Policeman’ Review: A Heartbreaking and Timeless Period Piece 

My Policeman is Harry Styles’ latest foray into the acting world. This slow-burning romance takes its timeto unfold, and make its commentary. The scenery is gorgeous, and the story is heartbreaking. As a whole package, the movie may not always come together perfectly. When it’s good, however, it’s frankly breathtaking. My Policeman premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.

My Policeman is based on the novel of the same name by Bethan Roberts. It’s a 1950s period piece about a policeman, a teacher, and a museum curator who get caught up in love and loss. The story spotlights each character as they wrestle with the conventions and laws of the 1950s. What follows is a story of friendship, love, and betrayal. The novel is told from three distinct perspectives, and the movie tries to capture this same feeling. 

Perhaps it’s time that we as a society collectively accept that Harry Styles isn’t meant for a career in acting, and should maintain his focus on his singing. It’s not that he’s particularly bad in this movie. In fact, this may be his best starring role yet after the drama of his last feature film which shall remain unnamed. He’s clearly making an effort, and this could very well be the best that he is capable of. His earnestness comes through in every scene. 

As much of an effort as Styles give, he’s an odd choice for this particular role. In many ways, the character of Tom is meant to represent the ideal police officer; intellectually simple, incapable of nuance, and generally incapable of observation. He’s meant to be plain, and what the kids these days refer to as “basic”. The problem is that Harry Styles is far too attractive to play such a character. It defies belief that a man so attractive could be so, well, basic.

Although Styles may be the initial draw to this movie for many viewers, Emma Corrin and David Dawson are the reason you’ll stay. There’s a deeply nuanced relationship here. They play so well off of each other. Their combined intellect carries the movie forward, when Tom can’t see what is right in front of his face. The twist at the end is all the more devastating when it’s clear that in another lifetime, in another story, Marion and Patrick could have been the closest of friends, loving and cherishing one another.

Unfortunately, Marion’s actions are never fully examined, nor is she as a character ever held to account. There’s a troubling and visceral violence in her actions, that never gets re-visited. The movie’s attempt to make us as viewers understand her motivations is one thing. However, to present her actions without commentary is a disservice to the story. It would have been better for the story to allow Marion to reflect on her actions, and the harm that she caused. The character isn’t given nearly enough screen-time in which to do so. 

My Policeman is an adequate literary adaptation, that doesn’t always come together. However, at it’s best, it’s a poignant story about love, quashed by society. It’s an indictment against the hate that still permeates so much of our world today. The deliberate pace will give viewers plenty of time to reflect upon this. The journey is ultimately a worthy one.

My Policeman will stream on Prime Video November 4, 2022.

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