A school teacher and a museum curator fall madly in love with a handsome policeman. Flash forwards tell us that it will end in tears. Why do we revisit stories of queer trauma? The back-alley hook ups. The brutal beatings. The misery. Is it to honor our elders? To educate our youth? To campaign for awards? Or, in My Poilceman’s case, is it an excuse to strip Harry Styles naked?
Styles commits to his love scenes; clumsy shags with his innocent wife (Emma Corwin) and passionate tumbles with his worldly boyfriend (MVP David Dawson). Intimacy Coordinator Ben Wright skillfully traced the arc of the relationships in these sequences. Each moan and thrust sent a collective shudder through the fans at my screening. This is what it feels like to make love to a fantasy. The problems start when he has to talk.
Bethan Roberts’s 2012 novel (loosely inspired by the life of E.M. Forster) presents the titular policeman as an enigma. A cipher for his admirers to project their hopes and dreams upon. (The same could be said of Styles himself.) To his wife he’s confident and manipulative. To his lover he’s innocent and curious. Styles lacks the training to flesh out the thinly sketched character. His flat voice and awkward line readings inspire chuckles. He looks delicious in his period costumes. But we’re meant to believe that Corwin and Dawson waste their lives pining for him. There needs to be a greater reason than simple lust.
A framing device revisits the trio four decades later. Gina McKee, Linus Roache and Rupert Everett can’t make sense of the bitter grumps. There’s no explanation of why McKee and Roache stayed in a lavender marriage. Or why nothing of interest has happened to them since 1957. They exist to provide a catharsis that their younger selves were denied.
My Policeman isn’t a bad movie. Corwin and Dawson give compelling performances. But others have told this story better. If you want an uneasy bisexual love triangle, check out 1971’s Sunday, Bloody Sunday. If you want to see the stars in similar roles then watch Rupert Everett in The Happy Prince, Linus Roache in Priest or Emma Corwin in season four of The Crown. If you want to see Harry Styles’s lovely body, sans tattoos, then check out My Policeman.