‘My Policeman’ needs jail time

Photo courtesy of IMDb.

By Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer

“My Policeman” is the sort of movie you put on when you know you want a good cry. The first time you see a peaceful shot of an English town by the sea, you will know that you’re in for an hour and a half of cardigans and melodrama. “My Policeman” delivers on that promise.

“Taste is simply just knowing how something makes you feel,” David Dawson’s “Patrick” says to Harry Styles’ “Tom” as they stare together at a romantic painting of a ship on a stormy sea.

How does this movie make one feel?

For most of the movie, embarrassed — for Patrick as he inserts himself into the lives of Tom and Marion (Emma Corrin), and for Marion as she deludes herself about her husband Tom’s sexuality and sabotages Patrick’s livelihood and career in a desperate attempt to have Tom to herself. Lastly, for Tom as he wrecks the lives of all three of them.

Throughout the movie, we can see an older Marion (Gina McKee) figuring out the extent of her husband’s lies as she goes through older Patrick’s (Rupert Everett) diaries, who is staying in her house after having a stroke.

One of the first scenes that shakes the viewer from the wave of drowsiness the first part of the film lulls them under, is a little more than a third of the way into the movie.

Patrick comes in from the rain towards the warm, yellow glow of a bar, one story below the street level. This bar, The Argyle, is a safe haven for gay men like himself during the late ’50s in England.

It’s a comfortable environment for Patrick, and he meets a man there. They hit it off and kiss in an alleyway near the bar, when suddenly a policeman comes. The cop breaks the two up, beating the other man bloody in the alley before arresting him. Patrick narrowly escapes unscathed.

Patrick was only used to seeing police in their capacity to be closed-minded and brutal, not like Tom, who Patrick describes as gentle and innocent. This scene is well done, artfully contextualizing the world that gay people lived in during the 1950s, diving deep into Patrick’s trauma and adding a layer to his love for Tom.

It cuts back to a stormy sea at night.

Easily the most clichéd aspect of “My Policeman” is the way the film uses the sea to reflect the emotions of its three central characters. When things are peaceful, the sea is calm and old Marion and old Tom (Linus Roache) stare out at it together as a strong, married couple.

When Patrick looks out at it in his old age, it’s rougher, angrier. It’s a metaphor for his inner turmoil living under Marion’s care and being avoided by Tom.

The movie picks up significantly after the first third, becoming infinitely more interesting if you can stand to wait through Tom’s half-hearted courtship of Marion that is after all, a ruse to spend more time with Patrick in public, to see it.

Things start to look up for Patrick at the end of the film when Marion finally leaves Tom to stay at her sister’s house. Why it took literal decades for her to realize that her marriage is unhappy, nobody can tell. But, she urges Tom to take care of Patrick, finally.

As she drives away in the cab, she looks back at the sea — a bright, sunny day with calm waters — and smiles.

The heart-wrencher is when Tom makes his way to Patrick’s room for the first time, coming up behind Patrick’s wheelchair and softly kissing him on the head. As he leans down, he becomes his younger self, and we see Harry Styles warmly embrace this man from his past.

Cue one singular tear to dramatically roll down the viewer’s cheek.

All things considered, “My Policeman” is a good movie as far as book adaptations go, but it has the distinct vibe of something made for thirty-something women to giggle at the dirty scenes and over-sympathize with Marion.

“My Policeman” is truly half sex scene, half mopey sob story. If that’s your thing, go for it. The movie is included with Amazon Prime, so you won’t have to pay to watch it.