The first reviews for Harry Styles' My Policeman are in – and the romance drama doesn't seem to be wowing critics out of Toronto Film Festival. Reactions overall, it's fair to say, have been mixed so far, with some calling the Michael Grandage flick "tame" and stodgy", while others have labelled it "poignant" and praised its performances.
Based on the book of the same name by Bethan Roberts, the movie is set across two different timelines – something many of the reactions claim it doesn't juggle well. Predominantly, though, it takes place in 1950s Brighton, where copper Tom Burgess (Styles) strikes up a romance with teacher Marion (The Crown's Emma Corrin). Their relationship proves conflicting for Tom, however, due to his affections for museum curator Patrick (Peaky Blinders' David Dawson). Decades later, the characters are played by Linus Roache, Gina McKee, and Rupert Everett – as the trio try to reconcile with their tangled-up painful past.
The Guardian's Benjamin Lee awards the picture just two stars in his write-up, arguing that Styles is "arrestingly awkward" at Tom. "The film isn't exactly a washout but it's not exactly much of anything," he continues. "A disappointingly drab and stridently straightforward love triangle saga overstuffed with furtive glances and maudlin moping while underpowered by a blank lead performance."
"Between Don't Worry Darling and My Policeman, Styles is quickly proving to be the real deal as an actor, and he is very convincing here as a man lost in deception with his wife," Deadline's Pete Hammond pens less scathingly. "But for me, it doesn’t quite reach its full potential."
"Time and trauma have not been good to these men, but the writing doesn’t offer any solid characterization or sparks of recognition. There are no threads between the young men of this story and the older for the audience to grasp onto," suggests The Wrap's Katie Walsh.
"There is a sensitivity to the material here that elevates it from that aforementioned nagging sense of familiarity," says The Playlist's Gregory Ellwood. "Styles, night and day here compared to his work in that other fall release, wonderfully inhabits a working-class man fearful of public scrutiny but unable to hide his true self when he’s anywhere near Patrick. Dawson is heartbreaking as the latter. Subtly conveying the pain of someone who realizes the love of his life will soon be lost before his love does. While much of the credit for these performances goes to the actors, obviously, Grandage's attention to detail, especially in the couple's intimate scenes together, is sublime."
Check out some more tweet reactions (which are markedly more positive, overall) below...
#MyPoliceman is a lovely and quietly devastating film. An excellent screenplay with wonderful, tender direction by Michael Grandage. A remarkably strong ensemble, especially the brilliant Emma Corrin, David Dawson and Gina McKee. And yes, Harry Styles is very good. #TIFF22 pic.twitter.com/7hZPLJz0V7September 12, 2022
MY POLICEMAN is a painfully average movie with storytelling tropes I’ve seen plenty of times before. All six actors deliver fine enough work to carry the movie (I thought Harry Styles was better here than in Don’t Worry Darling) but I found the ending to be incredibly rushed. pic.twitter.com/v7rvELbkC6September 12, 2022
MY POLICEMAN is a solid/affecting adaptation of a story about forbidden love. I went in skeptical about Harry Styles, but came away impressed. He not only has movie star looks, but burgeoning chops too, and his perf—which is actually quite daring—is the best thing about the film.September 11, 2022
Got to see 'My Policeman' tonight at TIFF, really solid cast, covers familiar themes and plot points but hits them really well. I dunno I think this Harry Styles fella might be talented. pic.twitter.com/CtAenVcIuWSeptember 12, 2022
The cast are unlikely to be too fazed by the more negative reviews, however, given that they were branded best ensemble at the festival's Tribute Awards on Sunday night (September 11). "Thank you so much to everyone here, on behalf of all of us, for this wonderful, wonderful award," said Styles during the event. "We all loved working on this film so much. And we hope you enjoy it."
My Policeman will be released in theaters on October 21, before landing on Prime Video on November 4. While we wait, check out what other exciting upcoming movies this year has in store for us.