My Policeman made its Toronto International Film Festival debut on 11 September and received lots of buzz due to its star-studded cast.
The film detailed the story of three young people in the 1950s: Tom Burgess (played by Harry Styles) a gay police officer who isn’t able to come out; Marion (Emma Corrin) and museum curator Patrick, portrayed by David Dawson.
The film also stars Rupert Everett, Gina McKee, Linus Roache and Kadiff Kirwan.
The narrative follows the characters of decades of their lives as they navigate their relationships.
Styles attended the premiere alongside co-stars Corrin and Dobson.
They were also joined by director Michael Grandage.
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My Policeman received a standing ovation from the TIFF audience following the premiere on Sunday evening.
The applause was cut short as Styles left to catch a plan and resumed his world tour straight after the screening.
Despite the high praise from the TIFF audience, My Policeman received a lowly 42% review score on Rotten Tomatoes.
So, what did critics have to say about the film?
Entertainment Weekly, B-
EW’s Leah Greenblatt gave the film a B- and stated it was “a pleasantly escapist two hours with pretty people in pretty clothes, madly sublimating their feelings until the final, luminous frame.”
The Times, 2/5
The Times gave My Policeman just two out of five stars, citing Styles as the most attractive aspect of the film. “[Harry Styles] is the best reason to see My Policeman,” reviewer Tom Charity wrote. “An earnest, heavy-handed adaptation of Bethan Roberts’s tragic love story, for which the word “plodding” seems all too appropriate.
London Evening Standard, 2/5
“It’s competently shot and the score by Steven Price is imbued with longing, guilt and regret, but the real crime of this film is how painfully average it is,” wrote Luke Hearfield from the Evening Standard.
The Guardian, 2/5
Benjamin Lee from The Guardian gave the film a 2/5, stating: “Styles might look like the handsome movie star he’s being aggressively pushed as with his sleek matinee idol hair always in place but he’s all construct and no conviction, a performer as unsure of his ability as we are.
The Hollywood Reporter
Although The Hollywood Reporter didn’t give My Policeman a definitive rating, it did say the film was “a respectful drama, watchable enough but unable to build much emotional charge around its exploration of the mysterious lines of love and friendship.”
Like The Hollywood Reporter, Variety didn’t rate the film. Critic Peter Debruge wrote: “Keep the Kleenex within reach — you’ll still want it.”
Indiewire gave My Policeman a C+ review. Writer Ryan Lattanzio asked: “Do we really need another reminder that times were bad (and still are) for gay people, which of course means that love must suffer because of it?”
One Room With A View
One Room With A View gave the film a promising three out of five and stated “At times, it skirts dangerously close to becoming an outright melodrama, but it succeeds in being a pretty faithful adaptation to the book and is still quite moving thanks to Dawson’s exceptional performance.”
“My Policeman is studied and plodding in its period-piece solemnity, a dirge of a movie about reckless people that is never warmed by their implied inner fire,” wrote Richard Lawson for Vanity Fair.
New York Post, 1.5/4
The New York Post gave My Policeman a scathing 1.5/4 review. Johnny Oleksinski suggested: “So much talent for such a nonevent movie,” and that Styles’ “frigid” performance “should be locked up.”
The Daily Beast
Nick Schager of The Daily Beast described the film as “A work of unremitting clichés that’s so earnest about its hackneyed elements that it plays as a borderline parody.”
“For all the anticipation about this being a star turn for Styles, the lack of depth in his performance and of the film itself ensures it won’t leave nearly the impression it set out to,” critiqued Chase Hutchinson from Collider.
Robert Daniels from RogerEbert.com described the film as a “surface-level queer representation lacking in visual imagination and begging for better performances.”