Harry Styles drama 'My Policeman' robbed of its dramatic tension

Adam Graham
The Detroit News (TNS)

In the romantic drama "My Policeman," wildly charismatic pop singer Harry Styles plays a 1950s police officer married to a woman but in love with a man. Sounds scandalous!

But this dud of a romance is as dour as its monochromatic color palate. And it uses a boneheaded framing device that removes any sense of urgency from its telling, rendering the love triangle at its center limp and inert. At least Styles wears his period fashions well.

He plays Tom Burgess, a cop in Brighton, England, who meets schoolteacher Marion (Emma Corrin) and has a polite if not exactly burning hot relationship with her. They marry and settle down together.

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But his desire is saved for — and stoked by — Patrick (David Dawson), a museum curator with whom he shares a passionate affair. They attempt to keep their relationship a secret, but Marion spots them together and has big doubts when they jut off for a weekend in Venice. Still, she denies what's right in front of her until he comes out and says it: he's in love with Patrick.

The story, meanwhile, opens in 1999 and cuts between the '50s and the '90s, when Marion is a caretaker tending to Patrick, who has recently suffered a stroke. Tom, now under the same roof as Patrick, refuses to see him, the pain from their past too deep to bear. Romantic repression is the tale's one constant.

From left, David Dawson, Emma Corrin and Harry Styles star in "My Policeman." The movie is playing at Queensgate Movies 13 and Hanover Movies 16.

There are several issues with this setup, not the least of which is the older actors (Rupert Everett as Patrick, Gina McKee as Marion and Linus Roache as Tom) look nothing like their younger counterparts. The framework — put in place as Marion discovers her old diaries and reminisces about her youth — shifts the storytelling to the present and robs it of any tension, romantic or otherwise, pulling the rug out from underneath the rest of the movie.

Styles, also seen in the recent sci-fi headscratcher "Don't Worry Darling," is a natural in the clean lines of his 1950s wardrobes and bravely goes for it in his many same-sex love scenes with Dawson's character. But "My Policeman" is held back by its lack of insight into the psychology of its characters and Michael Grandage's stiff presentation. Harry's best moments of 2022 continue to be musical ones.

'MY POLICEMAN'Grade: C-MPAA rating: R (for sexual content)Running time: 1:53