Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Ending Of My Policeman Explained

Director Michael Grandage's second feature film, "My Policeman," arrived on Prime Video in November 2022 after a short limited theatrical run, bringing audiences into a deeply personal gay romantic drama with plenty of heartache. The film, based on Bethan Roberts' 2012 novel of the same name, takes place in Brighton, England in the 1950s. Tom (Harry Styles), a closeted gay policeman, marries school teacher Marion (Emma Corrin) while in a secretive relationship with museum curator Patrick (David Dawson). Eventually, Tom and Patrick's relationship comes to light, throwing their lives into chaos that returns to the surface decades later when Patrick (Rupert Everett) comes to live with Tom (Linus Roache) and Marion (Gina McKee) as he suffers from health issues. 

"My Policeman's" story and performances have received some criticism, but there's power to be found in the film's emotional turmoil surrounding its romance and the conflicts that spring from its decades-spanning love triangle. The story's parallel time periods set the stage for a truly affecting conclusion that sees Marion finally, truly confront Tom about his feelings towards Patrick. Now, there's quite a lot going on in the final act of "My Policeman," and it's possible that some of its finer plot points could slip by viewers who've gotten lost in emotion. Well, we're here to fill in the gaps and delve right into the ending of "My Policeman" and its long and winding road of forbidden romance.

Unjust punishment

Although "My Policeman" doesn't delve too deep into the reality of gay men and women being arrested during the 1950s for their sexuality, Patrick's personal story and perspective showcase some of the horrors and lurking dangers he and others face for being gay. There's a moment in which Patrick has a back alley romance with a bar patron that results in the police spotting them and arresting the other man. Even at home, Patrick is forced to lie to his neighbor by telling him that Tom is his cousin so that there's no suspicion of him having a relationship with another man. It's a subtle yet meaningful moment that displays the reality of gay men being forced to remain closeted during this time. 

It's what makes Patrick eventually getting arrested for homosexuality extra tragic, since it's so sudden and has grave impacts for Tom as well. Patrick's journal entries are thrown in his face and Tom is forced to give up being a policeman to avoid suffering the same fate. Even worse is that Patrick's arrest comes from a swift betrayal from Marion, who writes a letter to the museum causing him to get arrested. Patrick's arrest is one of the most heartbreaking moments in "My Policeman," and really kicks off a final act full of emotion while painting a dour picture of this period in history for the gay community. 

Marion's guilty conscience

After Patrick is arrested, the audience is left wondering what exactly caused him to end up in handcuffs. Was it his neighbor catching onto him and Tom's regular meetings? Did the other man who was arrested in the alley out Patrick to save himself? Or did someone on the police force find out about Tom and Patrick and decide to go after him instead of a fellow officer? Truth be told, none of these things turn out to be the reason. It's revealed that Marion has betrayed Patrick, writing an anonymous letter to the museum outing him after he took Tom on a romantic getaway. 

Although Marion comes clean about it in some final words to Tom before leaving, explaining that she felt horrible about it after she had done it, the damage has been done already. Patrick has spent years of his life behind bars for simply being himself. It's an action that not only embodies Marion's desperation to keep her marriage with Tom intact, but also her homophobic mindset. It's another gut-punch moment in "My Policeman" that plays a big role in Marion's growth throughout the film as she comes to realize the impact and consequences of her decision. 

Burning the badge

With Patrick's journal entries alluding to his relationship with Tom by referring to him as "my policeman," Tom is put in an awkward position and is forced to make a drastic choice. Tom is essentially outed as well, and ultimately decides to leave his post as a policeman in a bit of a dramatic fashion. We never see him resign from his position or actually deal with other officres after the trial, but Marion finding him as he burns his uniform definitely symbolizes that he can no longer lead the same life. 

It's pretty much an act of survival, as Tom knows that he could easily suffer the same fate as Patrick (possibly even worse since he'd be a police officer in prison), and he and Marion basically lead a new life together after this whole ordeal, until Patrick arrives at their house years later. Tom being a policeman is a key aspect of his youth, so watching him burn his uniform is symbolically a major change in his personal arc. 

Patrick's weakened state

After Patrick was imprisoned, he went through a tough time that would eventually lead to him having some drastic health issues as he got older. As shown in a scene of him getting beat up in prison, Patrick likely faced a lot of physical torment and abuse that caused his physical and mental health to diminish over the years. That's why he's in the condition we see him in at the start of the film, apparently having recently suffered a stroke and likely requiring medical assistance for the rest of his life. 

When we first see him, he can barely speak and Marion is forced to take care of him, much to the dismay of Tom. Even mentally, Patrick has severely suffered from the years of abuse he's been dealt, and knowing that Marion played a big role in him going to prison likely influences some of the nastier behavior he shows toward her at times. With Patrick having once been a fit, well-spoken, and charming individual, it's disheartening and legitimately tragic to see what the decades and his time in prison have done to him. 

Marion's homophobia

After suspecting that Tom and Patrick are in a romantic relationship, and being immensely frustrated by the feeling that Patrick is flaunting their affair by taking Tom on a getaway trip, Marion's hidden homophobic views start to show. In a conversation with her friend, who she comes to realize is gay, Marion calls the possibility of Tom and Patrick's romance "unnatural" and emphasizes her homophobic stance. It's surprising to hear her so insistently voice such prejudice, but it ends up playing a strong role in her arc when we see her in the future. 

Based on what we see during the scenes set in the '90s, it seems like Marion has started to gain a more open perspective. Her willingness to help Patrick in his weakened condition shows that she's left some of her past feelings behind, or at least feels like she owes it to him for letting her homophobia and anger lead directly to his arrest. She even has a seemingly decent friendship with a local gay couple — a couple whose relationship causes Tom to break down in tears since they have what he can't. Even in the moment when Marion ultimately decides to leave, she doesn't blame their sexuality for hurting her — rather, she has a realization that Tom could never truly return her love. The passage of time, reflections on her own life, and a slow-burning empathy have changed her, but the most affecting thing might be her encounter with a hidden perspective.

A hidden perspective

Most of the film is told through the perspective of Marion reading through Patrick's old journals detailing his feelings towards Tom and their hidden relationship. Although this isn't the first time that Marion has heard these entries, since they were read to her in court when Patrick was arrested for being gay, reading Patrick's thoughts later in life offers a new perspective that allows her to make a big decision. With each entry she reads, Marion ultimately comes to understand that the feelings between Tom and Patrick are stronger than any of the feelings within her own marriage to Tom. 

Aside from being a good storytelling tool for the film's flashback structure, these sequences of Marion reading actually make a big impact on her character arc. There were times where Marion was completely against homosexuality, even calling it "unnatural," but she seems to have grown a bit since then, and reading Patrick's journals has opened her up even more. She finally understands Patrick's feelings towards Tom, and after seeing some signs that Tom could be harboring some unresolved feelings as well, makes a decision to confront her husband and eventually leave the relationship entirely.  

A changing world

Through Patrick and Tom's romance, "My Policeman" highlights the changing world for a community of gay men, and it plays a big role in their personal arcs. Patrick and Tom are forced to keep their relationship a secret or risk the consequences of being sent to prison, as Patrick eventually is. As shown during the '50s, many gay men were forced to remain closeted like Tom, and if there was even a rumor that you were gay, you'd soon find your life in shambles as the police arrived at your doorstep.

However, as seen by Tom in the 1990s, it's become much more possible for gay couples to live openly and happily, and it actually stings Tom quite a bit. Having never been allowed to be himself and having lost the man he loved, there's something bittersweet about now seeing others able to have the kind of relationship he couldn't. It's all wrapped in a deeply emotional moment of Tom breaking down in tears over seeing another gay couple living the life he never could with Patrick, and feeling that crushing blow of all that time that was lost. 

The aftermath of Patrick's imprisonment

Patrick being sent to prison is a life-changing moment not just for him, but for Tom and Marion as well. Tom is forced to leave his duties as a policeman to escape the risk of being outed himself, and his relationship with Marion is at a crucial turning point with the possibility of it ending. However, Tom tells Marion that he wants to stay committed to her and leave his feelings for Patrick behind to make their marriage stronger. So, is that what happened? For the most part, yes.

For many years, Tom and Marion have lived a seemingly happy marriage together, a stable marriage that has seemed for all those years like it could last forever. That is, until Patrick reenters their lives in the '90s and the memory of his and Tom's relationship resurface, causing Marion and Tom to reevaluate their lives. Although Tom once said that his feelings for Patrick were dead and gone, it's easy to see that this has never truly been the case, and Patrick's return causes major realizations that play out through the entire film. 

Understanding Tom's heart

Tom's personal arc throughout "My Policeman" definitely focuses on him coming to terms with his sexuality and his feelings toward Patrick while also having genuine feelings for Marion. It's worth delving into what he comes to learn about himself and the feelings he wrestles with throughout most of his life. When Patrick is thrown into prison, Tom denounces his love for him and wishes to forget him entirely. However, based on his feelings in the present there's still a lingering love that he has for Patrick, which causes him to distance himself further so that he doesn't have to confront those feelings. 

However, as Patrick comes back into his life and Marion begins to see a different perspective from Patrick's journals, Tom is forced to confront himself about the feelings he still has towards Patrick. It's not that he doesn't care for Marion, but he can no longer lie to himself about Patrick truly being the love of his life. Between Marion leaving him and the realization of how much society has evolved, Tom can finally have his desires and be with Patrick. 

Patrick's real intentions

Throughout Marion and Tom's marriage in the '50s, Patrick is constantly trying to get into Tom's head and convince him that he needs to leave Marion so that they can be together. Patrick's intentions aren't malicious or anything, but rather a result of his frustrations stemming from him and Tom not being able to have the relationship they want due to social barriers. With Marion getting him sentenced to prison by outing him through an anonymous letter, though, he's unable to continue his relationship with Tom, and by the time they see each other again, Tom has been living in denial of those feelings for decades. 

So, when he comes back into Tom and Marion's life, is Patrick still trying to rekindle things with Tom? Even though he struggles to speak and suffers from a tough health condition, there are moments that show he still loves Tom. From wanting to see him when he arrives to giving hints to Marion that his feelings for him still remain, Patrick definitely shows that he's still interested in a future with Tom. 

Marion's departure

After reading through Patrick's perspective on his relationship with Tom, and seeing how torn up Tom still is about Patrick reentering his life, Marion ultimately comes to realize that her marriage with Tom just doesn't carry the same kind of genuine love. Rather than try to make the relationship work and let Tom and Patrick continue to be torn apart by their unresolved feelings, Marion decides to end things with Tom and leave their home. 

She doesn't do this in a vindictive or nasty manner, but out of an understanding and empathetic manner, since she's finally accepted that this is simply not the relationship that either of them wants. It all comes to a quiet climax when Marion confronts Tom with meaningful and emotional openness, and finds a way to amicably end things on reasonable terms for everyone's good. Marion's decision to leave ends things on a bittersweet note, but also a hopeful one — Tom and Patrick can be together, while she can move on from a life that was never as real as she wanted it to be.

A tender reunion

With Marion leaving in the final moments of the film, you're left wondering what will happen between Tom and Patrick now that she's officially out of the picture. Tom has been making every effort to stay away from Patrick throughout most of the film, and has said that his feelings for him are dead and gone. However, like Marion, we know that's not true and once Marion is gone, you have to wonder if he'll actually feel comfortable enough to reconnect with Patrick on a romantic level. 

In the final scene of the film, Tom comes up to Patrick and puts a hand on his shoulder, just like the night when they first made a romantic connection, and Patrick tears up in the warmth of their relationship rekindling. It's a harmonious moment of emotion that feels like the perfect way to close out Tom and Patrick's story in "My Policeman." They're finally able to have the relationship they've craved for decades and it really feels like two who are now truly able to be themselves without any outside pressure or opposition.