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Thread: MY POLICEMAN (Michael Grandage 2022)

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    MY POLICEMAN (Michael Grandage 2022)

    MICHAEL GRANDAGE: MY POLICEMAN (2022)


    EMMA CORRIN, HARRY STYLES, DAVID DAWSON IN MY POLICEMAN

    Central roles marred by a clumsy frame story

    My Policeman is about a love triangle set in the English seaside town of Brighton in the fifties. A male museum employee and a young woman are both in love with an attractive young English cop in the city of Brighton. Tom (Harry Styles) is already sexually involved and evidently in love with Patrick (David Dawson), who calls Tom in his diaries "my policeman," when Tom becomes involved with a schoolteacher called Marion (Emma Corrin). This fifties sequence is framed by scenes when this triangle blew up, and decades later when Patrick has had a stroke and is played by Rupert Everett, who surprisingly is being taken care of by the older Marion (now played by Gina McKee). Tom (now played by Linus Roache) hovers in the background till the final scenes. The early sequences are very good and here much more than in Don't Worry Darling it's unclear why critics insist Harry Styles can't act. He is very touching, and also very attractive.

    But what makes this movie a failure is that the later, framing sections don't work either narratively or dramatically. It's hard to see how the later stage of events could happen, or at least more explanation is needed. It seems the original novel source by Bethan Roberts doesn't clearly relate the separate time sequences either, or the present time scenes with the earlier journals by Patrick that keep being referred to. Everett, McKee and Roache look nothing like their characters' earlier versions, and the older versions of their characters are not very interesting.

    My Policeman has something in common with Brokeback Mountain, except that's a wonderful film and this is a so-so one. Not only are Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal of considerable more fire power; the love affair of Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist is more full-on passionate. Annie Proulx, who wrote the story, put them out by themselves on the range, where they could discover their passion undistracted, at first. Patrick and Tom are meeting furtively in a British town. Homosexuality is equally forbidden and persecuted in both settings. Tom probably wants to marry Marion at least in part because bachelors don't get promoted in the force, and because he'd like to have children. He does not want to be an outcast: homosexuality remained illegal in England until 1967. Things get messy in a different way in My Policeman, that is in the story. They get messy additionally in the movie because of its poor construction. Post-stroke Patrick can't speak. Older Tom has little to say. Older Marion is dutiful. We don't know why until the end, with a final revelation that falls flat except perhaps to make us either dislike, or understand, her more.

    Director Grandage, as I wrote in my review of his 2016 film Genius, is a 'notable man of the English theater." He does well in directing the - dramatic - early scenes that are the emotional heart of My Policeman and its sole point of interest. There is nothing cinematic here: visuals consist of period-appropriate scenery of Brighton beaches and shops. The rest - the "after" section - is flat and doesn't ever really connect.

    In those early scenes we vividly contemplate what it was like to be young and sexually inexperienced when you had "forbidden" desires as Tom does, as well as to be attractive to both sexes. We can experience how Tom, as played by Harry Styles, would be confused about what he wants. He soon gives in wholeheartedly to the more experienced man (Patrick), toward whom he in fact has made the first move. Then we can understand how he would pursue the 'approved' relationship with Marion, but in his ambivalence arrange for the three of them to do things, and then to go off on an idyll with Patrick not long after he and Marion are married.

    A movie might have been made just out of this. Not everything has to end in dramatic, shocking events, though in a short novel it might be tempting to end them that way. One would like to snip out the good early sequences and remake the remainder of the movie to be worthy of them. People will go on saying Harry Styles is no good. They admit that David Dawson, as the younger Patrick, is excellent: how to they think he could look so good if Styles didn't play his side of their scenes well?

    My Policeman 113 mins., debuted at Toronto Sept. 22, 2022, playing at about a dozen other festivals including Rio, the Hamptons, Newport Beach, London, Santa Fe and Leiden. Oct. 21, 2022 US theatrical release, released on the Internet in many countries Nov. 4. Screened for this review at Landmark Albany Twin Oct. 21. Meatcritic: 50%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 10-22-2022 at 12:44 AM.

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