My Policeman: A Tragic Love Story

Based on the 2012 novel written by Bethany Roberts, “My Policeman,” a dramatic romance set in the 1950s, shows the struggles of going against societal norms and breaking the law for love.


Sruthi Sakala via Canva

This seemingly perfect summer romance takes a tragic turn when main character Tom Burgess realizes he’s – illegally – in love with someone else.

Aarohi Motwani and Sruthi Sakala

Contains spoilers.

Love is in the air in 1950s Brighton, England. When teacher Marion Taylor (Emma Corrin) sets her sights upon Tom Burgess (Harry Styles), a handsome policeman, she knows she wants more than a fleeting summer love. The two grow into a domestic romance, visiting museums, carnivals, and reading books in the library together. 

The pair soon becomes a trio when an artist stumbles upon Tom while he’s on duty in the streets. Patrick (David Dawson) — an artist and museum curator– is immediately infatuated with Tom and it soon becomes obvious – to the audience at least – that Tom and Patrick are forming a more deeper and intimate relationship that turns into an affair. Given that they live in a time where queer relationships are illegal, they use Patrick’s flat as a secret hideout away from the judgy eyes of Brighton, and Marion is made into an unknowing “beard.”

The film alternates between the 50s and the 90s, where we see the same characters much older and carrying the same pain they felt when they were younger. In the 90s scenes, Marion is taking care of stroke victim Patrick, without the help of Tom who refuses to acknowledge Patrick. While Tom is out of the house, Marion reads his private journals and reads about how quickly the two men fell in love and how quickly they broke apart after Marion turned Patrick in to the police for being queer.

A stark contrast concerning laws about LGBTQ+ rights in the 50s versus the 90s shows how much times have changed from the beginning of Tom and Patrick’s relationship to the end of it. The differing scenes portrayed the progress of LGBTQ+ acceptance in both the real world and in the movie exceptionally well. It allows the audience to feel what members of the LGBTQ+ community had to go through back in the 50s. 

In the past, as the movie shows, queer people have long been criminalized and antagonized for being who they are, and the long battle for LGBTQ+ rights is still being fought. While the situation has improved drastically in comparison to the 50s, there are still members of the community who feel unsafe and underprotected by society and the law. 

The actors of this film provide another small layer of representation for queer people – David Dawson is openly gay, and Emma Corrin identifies as non-binary and queer. 

The movie is brutally honest about the lives of homosexuals in a judgemental society, and does a good job of showing the struggles of the lengths gay men had to go to in those troubling times just to be together. It also includes moments of reflection for Marion, who was blinded by jealousy and homophobia fostered by her community, and Tom, who struggled with internalized homophobia as well as accepting who he is and who he loves. 

The actors themselves gave smashing performances, moving the audience to tears. Corrin contributes many layers of emotional depth to the storyline by their level of experience and attention to detail in order to fulfill the role of Marion. Dawson was the perfect actor to play Patrick, from appearance to personality, down to the way he carries himself. The two showed their experience clearly through their collaboration and professionality. Although this is only Styles’ fourth time on the silver screen, his acting as Tom was raw and emotional; the improvement he’s shown since his previous three films – male lead in the thriller film “Don’t Worry Darling,” the role of Alex in the war movie “Dunkirk,” and the role of Eros in “Eternals”-  is clear. 

The set mirrored the book perfectly, as Director Micheal Grandage brings the story to life. Details as small as Marion moving her and Tom’s marriage picture towards Patrick so he can see that those two are married to each other to details that are mentioned in Patrick’s diary in the book. 

“My Policeman” is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.