David Dawson, Emma Corrin and Harry Styles in My Policeman (Photo: Parisa Taghizadeh/Amazon Prime Video via PA Media)
The first reviews are out for Harry Styles’ second big-screen offering of 2022, following My Policeman’s debut at the Toronto Film Festival.
And Harry, we love you. But now might be the time to look away.
After the As It Was singer’s turn in Don’t Worry Darling (which hits cinemas later this month) proved polarising among critics, his acting in this new drama, co-starring Emma Corrin of The Crown, has turned out to be just as divisive.
In My Policeman, Harry and Emma play a married couple, with the former’s titular character embroiled in an affair with a male companion, played by David Dawson.
Meanwhile, Linus Roache, Gina McKee and Rupert Everett play the same trio of characters 40 years in the future, as they grapple with the events of decades earlier.
The film itself has received a somewhat lukewarm response, with many reviews pointing out a disconnect between the younger characters and their older counterparts.
Harry and Emma play a pair of newlyweds in the new film (Photo: Amazon Prime Video via PA Media)
However, there’s unfortunately no denying that it’s Harry’s acting that’s taken the brunt of the criticism, as it seems many remain unconvinced by his abilities.
Here’s a selection of what the first critics have had to say – and stick around till the end, where there’s a much more favourable summary of Harry’s acting…
The Guardian (2/5)
“[After seeing Don’t Worry Darling], the majority of critics slapped a massive question mark on Styles’ acting ability, a role too limited and limiting to tell us all that much met with an anti-climactic sea of shrugs.
“Although that would now seem rapturous in comparison to what Styles might be receiving for his follow-up, a polite and anonymous melodrama that should provide the confirmation many were looking for. Just weeks after his misfiring comments surrounding gay sex were being rightfully critiqued, it appears that his performance will also be, a turn just as tepid as his soundbites.”
“When [Harry Styles] has to hold a scene’s emotional tenor for longer than a line reading, he’s flat. He projects a glow of decency throughout the film, which means he’s not unwelcome in any given scene, but you ache for him every time a bit of dialogue thuds.
“This kind of film is not yet his milieu. Maybe it will be someday. That would certainly be a happier ending than anyone gets in My Policeman, which punishes these poor souls for having ever dared do anything at all.”
“Corrin is fine, though doesn’t come close to capturing the inner turmoil that made their breakout work as Diana on The Crown so riveting. Dawson plays the breezy sophisticate more convincingly than the lovelorn man inside.
“And as for Styles, he’s not terrible, but he leaves a hole in the movie where a more multidimensional character with an inner life is needed most. Between this and Don’t Worry Darling, he’s yet to prove himself a real actor.”
“For relative acting newcomer Styles, the guileless and appealing young Tom is an ideal role, his sweet and vacant beauty offering a blank slate onto which Marion and Patrick can project whatever they want.
“It’s just the troubling muddle of the script and direction that leaves one wanting much, much more from My Policeman.”
“On the press trail, Styles informed us that this film about the decades-spanning relationship between Tom, a closeted cop; art curator Patrick (David Dawson, a revelation); and Emma Corrin as Tom’s long-suffering wife Marion, is not ‘a gay story about these guys being gay’. It’s about love and about wasted time to me.
“If you say so, but the way he seems to read his own movie suggests he didn’t understand the assignment. That’s reflected in a performance that registers as a blank beyond inscrutable gazes and sappy breakdowns. To play a repressed gay man involved in a steamy, behind-closed-doors affair requires levels of complexity and conveying inner turmoil that Styles can’t provide.”
“While the film is more than Styles, it is his performance that represents the make or break point of the experience. The complexity of this character certainly made it a big role for him to take on so early in his acting career and this shows in the work that would have been far better with a more seasoned actor.
“This isn’t to single him out as he isn’t the first musician to make the leap from the stage to the screen. However, there is something about Styles that feels distinct in observing how he is still finding his footing. He plays Tom as abundantly nervous and uncertain about himself in every aspect we get to see of his character.”
“At no point does Styles fully inhabit his role, in large part because there’s rarely a moment when he isn’t visibly acting.
“Whereas Styles has charisma to burn on stage, he comes across as timid and awkward in My Policeman, and not simply because his Tom Burgess is a cheery officer who’s grappling with—and struggling to hide—his same-sex desires. That said, no amount of masterful theatrics could save Grandage’s film, a work of unremitting clichés that’s so earnest about its hackneyed elements that it plays as a borderline parody.”
“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.
“Corrin made up in passion in Lady Chatterley’s Lover what is lacking in this subdued character who finally takes a stand but unfortunately, so much time is lost between. Corrin certainly is showing lots of range these days.”
My Policeman will debut in select cinemas from 21 October, before its arrival on Amazon Prime on 4 November.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.