My Policeman (Amazon Prime, 11.4) is a tepid and morose gay tragedy, set in late 1950s England. And Harry Styles‘ rote performance as Tom Burgess, a sexually repressed gay policeman, is not a burnisher. Ditto David Dawson‘s as Patrick Hazlewood, a museum curator who becomes Tom’s lover and a rival for his affections in the matter of Emma Corrin‘s prim and proper Marion, who Tom marries because he needs a beard, which is a shitty thing to do.

But Marion evens the score down the road. Shittily, I mean.

Give Styles credit for bravely and energetically committing to some fairly graphic sex scenes with Hazlewood (kiss-slurping, panting, blowing, ass-fucking) but as I said in an earlier post, Styles is hot but Hazlewood isn’t, or at least not hot enough for me.

There are some pretty guys whom straight guys can at least imagine having some kind of vague intimate contact with. Mick Jagger in Performance was one. In True Romance Christian Slater‘s Clarence Worley says that he could’ve fucked the young Elvis Presley. But one look at Hazlewood and I went “nope.” Cold eyes, dorky haircut, emotionally needy and greedy.

I had a good laugh, however, when Dawson/Hazlewood hooks up with some anonymous guy and they decide to get down in an alleyway. They’re busted by a pair of bobbies before anything happens, but just before Dawson is about to drop to his knees the recipient drops a magazine on the damp pavement so Dawson won’t chafe his knees and his trousers won’t get wet. Thoughtful.

To be perfectly honest, My Policeman struck me as a stacked deck — basically a gay agenda film by way of an indictment of straight British society and the cruel repressions of the immediate post-war era.

It basically says that while being gay in 1957 Brighton was often a lonely and miserable thing, it was infinitely preferable to holding down a dull civil service job (Styles is a bobbie) while enduring a dull and regimented married life with a woman you don’t love and don’t really want to fuck either (the sex scenes between Styles and Corrin are grim and sad). And it absolutely revels in the joys of gay sex, over and over. Oh, the rapture, the ecstasy and the muscle tone!

It’s based on a year-old, same-titled book by Bethan Roberts. The Amazon copy reports that Roberts “reimagined the real-life relationship that the novelist E. M. Forster had with a policeman, Bob Buckingham, and his wife.”

Well, if it was good enough for Forster…

I was ready and willing to be engaged and transported, but less than five minutes in I was muttering “oh, shit” to myself. I knew this ploddingly pedestrian, dull-as-dishwater drama would be trouble during the opening credits, in fact. I can always smell trouble coming ‘round the bend.

While most of My Policeman is set in ’57 and ’58, about 35% or 40% is set in the late ’90s when Styles, Dawson and Corrin’s characters are in their mid to late 60s. They’re played, respectively, by Linus Roche, Rupert Everett and Gina McKee.

Honestly? McKee, who plays the least obliging and most clueless character, struck me as the most appealing. Her manner is gentle, her eyes are kind and she has a nice smile. Plus she doesn’t push it.

I was sitting in the third row in a nearly vacant theatre (two older women were sitting 10 or 12 rows behind me), and so I decided to keep my phone on and text my reactions to a friend as the film went along. Just watching it would have been unbearable. I had to fight back with my fingers and thoughts. Here are some of them:

“Watching Policeman. Totally tepid.

“The older guy who’s had the stroke (Everett) doesn’t look like either Styles or Dawson so who is he? Okay, fuck it — I’ll look it up on Wikipedia.

“I really, really don’t like this film. It’s dull and pedestrian. I really don’t like Dawson’s looks, and I hate how the film constantly flash-forwards to the late 90s and thereby returning to Dawson’s (or Everett’s, I should say) unshaven, stroke-addled guy who can’t speak clearly.

“I. Truly. Hate. This. Movie. (Why did you recommend it? Kidding.)

“Over and over My Policeman keeps saying ‘go the gay way, go the gay way…don’t make yourself miserable by submitting to the usual middle-class constipations and marrying a woman as dull as Emma Corrin’s character.’

My Policeman was made by an almost totally gay soccer team. McKee and Roche are the only seemingly straight principals involved. Director Michael Grandage and screenwriter Ron Nyswaner are gay. Corrin is gay. Dawson is gay. Everett is gay. Styles is presumably straight but has worn pearl necklaces and chiffon see-through dresses in concert.

“It’s gauche and heartless of Dawson to crash Styles and Corrin’s honeymoon, hollow and doomed as that marriage is. And it’s kind of cruel of Harry to go to Venice with Dawson and leave poor Emma behind in England.

“This film is boring my ass off — bad, mediocre, tedious.”