By: Megan Hastings
Media Production Editor
Bethan Roberts’ 2012 romance novel, My Policeman, was recently adapted into a film starring Harry Styles, Emma Corin, and David Dawson. The book follows an unconventional and illegal love triangle in 1950s England, switching between two different timelines –– the past and the present. The story of Marion, Tom, and Patrick compels readers with its tragic cliche of right person but wrong time, and Roberts’ ability to paint a vivid picture of England in the 50s results in numerous positive reviews. The book caught the attention of director Michael Grandage, who teamed up with screenwriter Ron Nyswaner to produce the film with the help of Amazon Studios. In September 2020, Amazon Studios announced that the project was in full swing, with popstar Harry Styles in negotiations to star. My Policeman, the film, came out on Nov. 4 to excited audiences.
The start of the book follows retired school teacher Marion writing an apologetic letter to her husband’s lover, Patrick. From there, we learn more about Marion and how she met her future husband, Tom. Tom and Marion’s story fits the stereotypical, but wholesome, romance followed by a traditional marriage. The book then shifts perspectives and tells the story in the form of Patrick’s journal entries, in which he describes his experiences with Tom. He writes about the struggle he faces with his sexuality during a time when it was illegal to love the same sex. What stands out the most from Patrick’s entries is how he details the confusing relationship he develops with Tom, who isn’t as accepting of his sexuality as Patrick is. The fear of being caught and prosecuted looms over both Patrick and his relationship, and while readers can only hope for the best, Marion makes an irreversible decision that changes all three of their lives.
The film delivers the same tragedy that the book’s narrative manages to capture; denying one’s true identity. The setting of 1950s England is perfectly translated from book to film through elaborate set and costume designs, as well as the emotional performances delivered by the actors. Dawson’s performance in particular has gained positive attention from critics and viewers alike. The structure of the movie is almost the same as the book, and although scenes have been cut or shortened, the film’s storyline does not suffer. Fans have met both novel and film versions of Bethan Roberts’ story of forbidden romance and loyalty with positive reactions, and the tragic tale of Tom, Patrick, and Marianne continues to impact worldwide audiences.