Review: ‘My Policeman’ revives appreciation for queer romance


Amazon Studios

Sonia Kalo, News Editor

The cinematic adaptation of Bethan Roberts’ novel of the same title, “My Policeman”  was released in select theaters on Oct. 21. and became available to stream on Prime Video Nov. 4.

Grammy award-winning singer Harry Styles portrays Tom Burgess, a closeted gay police officer having a secret affair with Patrick Hazelwood, a museum curator played by David Dawson. Patrick is married to a school teacher, Marion Taylor, who is played by Emma Corrin. The emotional story is told in jumps between 1950s and 1990s Britain, as the older versions of the main characters relive their past journey when fate brings them back together after so many years.

British law in the 1950s, up until 1967, allowed for prosecution of men who committed homosexual acts. The LGBTQ+ historical significance of Roberts’ story is what compelled former professional soccer player, now producer, Robbie Rogers to reach out to the author about turning her novel into a film. Rogers was the second professional soccer player in Britain to come out as gay and the first openly gay man to compete in an American sports league.

This personal connection is not unique to Rogers. Styles loved the novel so much that when he got his hands on the script for the film, he had to be a part of it and approached the film’s director, Michael Grandage.

“Harry came originally to me. We didn’t reach out to him at all,” Grandage said. “When I met him, it was very clear he understood Tom and very clear he could bring something to that role.”

In casting Styles as the lead of his movie, Grandage thought he knew what he would be getting himself into. However, the news of his latest role brought more than just anticipated buzz to the film. The singer’s own passion for this project excited his fans into theaters, bringing in a larger, much younger audience.

The cast’s dedication and emotional connection with the project was clear in their performances. Corrin beautifully displayed the utter betrayal and distress Marion feels toward the climax of the film. The older version of Marion, played by Gina McKee, establishes the character arc she goes through as a result of the events she experienced in Corrin’s portrayal.

This merging of the older and younger characters in the film, is what makes this story so beautiful and emotional. It is impossible not to sympathize with each of the characters. Viewers can understand where each character is coming from and why they did the things they did, but also feel the pain those actions caused the other characters.

The story is told in two different perspectives —Marion’s as she recalls the events of their past and Patrick’s through his diary that Marion reads. Styles portrays the different ways Marion and Patrick view Tom perfectly.

“Tom is this enigma, and Marion and Patrick make him up as their fantasy figure,” Roberts said in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar.

In this way, it is difficult for readers to work out who Tom really is and why he is so reluctant to face Patrick when they are older. Tom’s perspective is never shown in either the novel or film, fitting with the mystery of his characterization while frustrating viewers alike.

The dramatic and heart-tugging scenes were incredibly brought to life through the film’s score, composed by Academy Award-winning composer Steven Price.

Another interesting thing about this story was the antagonist. The driving negative force in the character’s lives was not a person, but the ideals of society that lead to the silencing of queer existence.

“I wondered if people had forgotten this a bit, how difficult this was and how easily it could be that way again,” Roberts said on the important history within “My Policeman.”

Even with media and society’s increased tolerance of queer people, it is still possible for today’s world to replicate that of the past if we’re unable to learn from history. The film has the capabilities to make a huge impact on its audience of younger generations. They might have been otherwise unaware of such immoral acts against LGBTQ+ people of that time period, if not for this film. They can hopefully continue the amazing progress made for the community.