Tom (Linus Roache) and Marion (Gina McKee) are a retired married couple, but unlike any other retired couple that should be enjoying their later life, they are at an impasse. It is because Marion has decided to take care of Patrick (Rupert Everett), who is recovering from a stroke. It’s not because of the challenges it would bring looking after someone in Patrick’s condition that Tom disagrees with Marion’s caretaking of Patrick, it’s because Patrick is both known to them, and Tom does not want anything to do with him. My Policeman then transports the audience back to the late 1950s when the three first met. Despite Tom and Marion’s relationship, Patrick and Tom become involved romantically with each other. Initially, Marion is unaware but soon learns of their affair and finds herself in a difficult position because of her husband’s job as a police officer, and it being illegal to be homosexual at the time. The film moves between the two time periods, gradually revealing how things came to be.
One of the biggest problems with My Policeman is its lack of subtlety. The introduction to the 1950s comes with many oversaturated exterior locations, often accompanied by overpowering music. It’s as if director Michael Grandage is busy trying to embellish the period that he forgets about focusing on the characters. Even when the film focuses on the characters, it feels overwritten and too dialogue-heavy. It might be because Grandage is an accomplished theatre director, where words are often more significant than visual storytelling, but the film’s moments of expression and emotion seem sparse.
My Policeman has seen a fair amount of attention because of the casting of Harry Styles, who plays young Tom, in one of his two prominent roles this year. Unfortunately, his performance lacks emotional depth, often in crucial scenes, and overall he comes across as one-dimensional and somewhat conventional in his delivery. David Dawson, who plays young Patrick, gives the most intriguing performance with subtlety, particularly in his expressions and Emma Corrin, as young Marion, gives an additional accomplished performance.
My Policeman, at times, felt like it was attempting to imitate other same-sex love stories rather than make its own impression, particularly with the film’s approach to focusing on shared enjoyment of art reminiscent of Portrait of a Lady on Fire. However, Portrait has an excellent level of subtlety and expression that draws the audience in and makes them feel invested in the film; by comparison, the unsophisticated approach to My Policeman makes the film appear uninspiring and unlikely to be found arresting by most cinephiles other than as a vehicle for Harry Styles.