My Policeman review: Faulty adaptation shines in parts

Prime Video’s ‘My Policeman’ is an adaptation of the eponymous 2012 novel by Bethan Roberts. It is a heartfelt tale of forbidden love and regret, focusing on a gay policeman in 1950s England.

Story

The film begins in the 1990s in Brighton, England as a withered old man named Patrick Hazlewood is shifted into the care of an old friend, Marion Burgess, after suffering a stroke. 

Marion’s husband Tom shows his distaste towards this development, hinting at a bitter past that plagues all three of them. 

The narrative then switches to the late 1950s where a young Tom Burgess, who is a secretly gay policeman in Brighton, starts dating Marion. On a visit to the museum, the couple befriends young and charming Patrick, the museum curator.

Marion is a teacher who hopes of marrying Tom, but is not sure if he wants the same thing. Life seems to take a turn for the better as Tom proposes to Marion and the two get married.

In the present, Marion comes across Patrick’s old journals and discovers that in the ’50s, Patrick (who is also gay), got to know Tom way before the latter started courting Marion.

The two are shown to be passionate lovers which Marion discovers after the wedding. Desperate to save her marriage, she makes a decision that destroys all three of their lives.

Living with regret for 40 years, she brings Patrick home to redeem herself, and hopefully rebuild the bridges that were burnt in the past.

Performances

My Policeman features quite ordinary performances that fail to do justice to Bethan Roberts’ deep and profound story. David Dawson, however, shines as the young Patrick. He plays the character with expertise and succeeds in presenting Patrick’s charm, vulnerability, trauma, and his love for Tom in a manner that feels authentic.

Unfortunately, Harry Styles isn’t able to bring the same depth to Tom’s character. He plays off of Dawson quite well but is quite bland while interacting with other characters, especially Marion. The same can be said for Emma Corrin, who fails to bring the intensity in her portrayal of Marion.

The elder versions of Patrick, Tom and Marion are played by Rupert Everett, Linus Roache, and Gina McKee respectively. These seasoned actors do not have much to do in the film, and are hardly able to add any relatability to these hurting, guilt-ridden and immensely troubled characters.

Positives

The highlight of My Policeman is the chemistry between Styles and Dawson. They steal the show in every scene and manage to do justice to a queer love story set in highly volatile times.

The intimate scenes between them are well shot and are probably the saving grace of the film. Furthermore, My Policeman gets its aesthetics right. The costumes, set designs, cinematography, and music, all add to the positives.

The story is profound and is brimming with themes of love, guilt, betrayal, and regret, among others. The narrative isn’t perfect, but manages to showcase just enough meat that doesn’t make the film terrible.

Negatives

My Policeman lacks a lot in depth and dazzling performances. The story required a lot more in terms of character exploration which could have been possible if My Policeman was a limited series instead.

Due to limited information and backstories, more often than not, the characters feel unrealistic in situations that require context for their behaviour.

The pacing is inconsistent and has periods where the film becomes almost boring and hard to follow. Nothing is outrightly bad, but there is always a feeling of wanting more in every scene. The uneven intercuts between the past and present also don’t do the screenplay any favours.

As a result, queer representation in the film also feels quite one dimensional. There is never enough urgency or attachment with the highs and lows these characters go through.

Verdict

My Policeman is wasted potential to say the least. The source material is extremely rich, but the screenplay isn’t able to exploit it.

The film has its moments but fails to hit the nail on the head in terms of performances, pacing, structure and depth. It is still worthy of a single watch, but it is best to keep expectations on the lower side.

My Policeman
My Policeman review: Faulty adaptation shines in parts 1

Director: Michael Grandage

Date Created: 2022-11-05 13:37

Editor's Rating:
2.5

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