Movie Review: “My Policeman”

Kris Poole-Evans

There’s a general agreement that when people translate books into movies, the movies usually suck. “My Policeman,” a novel written by Bethan Roberts in 2012, tells the story of two men as they delve into a romantic relationship during the 1950s. Oh, and there’s a woman too. I haven’t read the book, but after watching the two-hour mess that is “My Policeman,” I don’t ever want to read it.

Outside of maybe two songs, I’m not fond of Harry Styles, so I didn’t have high expectations going into “My Policeman.” Styles stars in the film as Tom Burgess, and takes up 98% of the screen time. Even from the teaser, which was already tainted with Styles’ mediocre acting, it wasn’t looking good, and honestly, what is so amusing about infidelity? I love drama, and I love seeing characters’ misery on screen, but surely casting directors Julie Harkins and Sam Stevenson could have found another way to make a gay man sad than by forcing him to a marry a woman.

“My Policeman” is about the relationships between Tom Burgess, a policeman, his school teacher wife, Marion Taylor, and a museum curator, Patrick Hazlewood. The viewer doesn’t know that Tom is gay at the beginning of the film, and in every other sense, he seems “normal.” He is straight and white, women love him and he has a good job. What else could a man want in the 1950s? Tom takes Marion, played by Emma Corrin, to the museum on a date where they encounter Patrick, played by David Dawson, who quickly wins Marion over through conversation. However, we find out later in the film that Patrick and Tom had previously hooked-up before Tom and Marion first met. Even after Tom courted Marion, he still pursued his romantic and sexual relationship with Patrick, which is a major red flag. Tom needs a cover up his feelings and hide his “homosexual endeavours” because it’s the 1950s, and it’s illegal to be gay. So, he eventually marries Marion, who, at this point, is blindly head over heels for Tom. She has no idea her husband is gay or that he only married her to stay socially afloat.

I genuinely do feel bad for Marion. While she’s homophobic and ruins not only Tom’s life, but also Patrick’s life, I don’t feel bad for her as a character, but I feel bad for her as a concept. Marion is only there to add that secretive element to Tom and Patrick’s relationship. She gets no real happy ending, no closure and certainly no apology of any kind.

Media with gay men as lead roles often have the issue of needing to fill the void with a woman whose only purpose is to be a lamb to the slaughter. Except there was no void to begin with, and tossing a woman into the story whose role is to be an object that the male lead can easily throw away is pretty sexist. There’s always a girlfriend, a wife or some type of woman that whose existence only furthers the development of the man, but why? If you’re making a movie strictly about the relationship between two gay men and your only conflict is “but there’s a woman,” then just put the pen down, turn the camera off and go back to the drawing board.

Is it so hard to make a movie where others don’t subject gay people to violence? A movie where gay people aren’t getting the absolute life kicked out of them? In the eyes of the public and the film world, are homosexuals nothing more than punching bags? There are stories every day about some form of LGBTQ+ discrimination, and all I want to see is a movie in which I don’t feel criminalized for my identity. I understand that the violence depicted in “My Policeman” makes sense for the period when the film takes place, but it’s stupid that filmmakers are making movies like this in the first place. There is nothing romantic or glamorous about being beaten to death for being gay.

This film seems nearly unsalvageable, but I do have to hand it to the production team. The visual shots showcasing the horizon and atmosphere throughout the movie are gorgeous. The beach shots of the water and the evening images of Tom and Marion’s home are two of my favorites. Those beautifully captured moments set the mood of the film and the scenes to come in a simple yet compelling way. Only, of course, to be let down by the horrendous concept of “My Policeman.”

I am confidently adding this movie to my worst movies of all time list and giving “My Policeman” a 2/10, and that’s me being generous. Those two points are for the wonderful visuals, and for David Dawson’s acting, who plays Patrick, and nothing else. Maybe in the future, I’ll read the book and see how it compares. But now, when I think of “My Policeman,” I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth.