Harry Styles, Harry Styles, Harry Styles… that’s all most people seems to talk about when it comes to the 2022 love triangle ‘My Policeman’. The pop star turned actor dominates the movie posters, review titles and is also the titular protagonist – he plays policeman Tom, who is caught between marital loyalty towards his wife Marion and forbidden love for Museum curator Patrick. But it’s really David Dawson who delivers the most poignant performance as Patrick in this ensemble cast.
Directed by Michael Grandage, ‘My Policeman’ is based on a novel by Bethan Roberts of the same name. The movie starts off with the older versions of the primary protagonists – retired teacher Marion (Gina McKee) insists on taking care of the now invalid Patrick (Rupert Everett plays the older version) even though her husband Tom (Linus Roache) is against it. “You just want to punish him,” he admonishes her, hinting at a strained history between the three. Then, in flashbacks, a tragic triangle is revealed through Patrick’s diary entries.
Set against a melancholic sea-side British region, ‘My Policeman’ dwells into selfish acts of love, jealousy, betrayal and self-preservation. Too often, movies end at a point where viewers are left to wonder – “What happened to them? Did they live all their years together? Did they eventually part ways?”. But this story starts at a point where the protagonists are already in their retired years, so viewers get a fair idea of what did happen to them. Tom and Patrick meet in the 1950s, and sparks fly between the two, and the former tries to be as secretive as possible, for as a cop he is supposed to jail those who indulge in the very same activities he partakes in. Queer rights didn’t exist at the time and ‘unnatural sex’ was a criminal offense.
Emma Corrin plays the younger Marion, who is completely smitten by the handsome Tom; the script leads one to believe she is blinded by a combination of ignorance and naivety, so she fails to see something sexual brewing between Tom and Patrick. David Dawson’s portrayal of the polished artistic Patrick, who would rather live life on the edge than compromise his identity for what’s considered ‘normal’, is flawless. Patrick is the most mature of the three protagonists, it’s he who has to compromise the most, and suffer on the sidelines, for he has to make do with crumbs of affection from his lover. Harry Styles as the title hero is more of an embellishment, with two people desperately vying for his attention, even though his character doesn’t have a lot going for his except for his exceptionally good looks (and maybe a soft heart).
For me it was David Dawson’s poignant performance that made ‘My Policeman’ stirring, he is seductively savant and fearlessly loyal. Some might not like the retrogressive story, but one needs to see it in the context of the period it takes place in and also reconcile with the fact that people can be terrible. The climax wraps the triangle on a heartrending note, and many might mistake it for a ‘happy ending’, while in truth it’s a bleak conclusion. But like Patrick says in a scene discussing literature – “all love stories are tragic, aren’t they?”.
It’s a 7.5/10 from me. You can stream the film on Prime Video.
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