top of page


The Letter Men

average rating is 5 out of 5


Amber Jackson


Posted on:

Oct 26, 2022

Film Reviews
The Letter Men
Directed by:
Andrew Vallentine
Written by:
Andrew Vallentine
Garrett Clayton and Matthew Postlethwaite

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our letters could be published in the future in a more enlightened time … Then all the world could see how in love we are.”

- Gordon Bowsher


The Letter Men is a heart-breaking, yet beautiful, short film commemorating a powerful love story between two men during The Second World War. Gordon Bowsher and Gilbert Bradley fell in love in England just before the outbreak of war and, like many other couples, had to deal with the hardships and consequences of conflict. Except, unlike most, the two men had to keep their love and sadness about being apart a secret. That is until hundreds of Gordon’s surviving letters to Gilbert were rediscovered after he passed away in 2008 and so this film commemorates his words as both men are thrust into battles both at home and overseas.


So why have we not heard stories like these?


Andrew Vallentine’s film explains how surviving records of queer relationships are rare. Most letters were destroyed or hidden by individuals out of a fear of being discovered to be queer at the time. Not least because homosexuality was illegal in the UK until 1967 and being openly gay in the armed services was not permitted until 2000. The consequences of having a relationship would have been very public and terrifying for queer people, yet The Letter Men provides more positive and heart-warming confirmation of queer love being celebrated and cherished by these two men. Despite navigating their love in a painful time and being unable to acknowledge their feelings to anyone else, the tone of Gordon’s letters inspires hope and a life in the future worth living and fighting for.


This is a beautifully filmed and crafted short exploring the first turbulent and passionate year of Gordon and Gilbert’s relationship. It captures the boggy brutal environment of the trenches, paired with the fearsome London Underground acting as a makeshift bunker whilst explosions rain all around both men fighting to survive. This harshness contrasts with sweeter moments where the viewer is permitted to see glimpses of Gordon and Gilbert’s lives together. The gorgeousness of their home, the sereneness of the sea where they first met and the bliss that comes with it is very emotive and a really rare example of taking a sombre theme and creating something happy with it. Vallentine has exquisitely captured Gordon and Gilbert’s love and joy in being together and depicts a very rare uplifting ending.


It is moving to consider how, despite so much more work needing to be done, society has changed and progressed with regards to LGBTQ+ rights and equality since that time. Gordon’s letters are so self-aware with regards to his love for Gilbert, as well as the society that they both exist in. Amongst the battles and the brutality of their life in wartime, all they can do is look forward to better and warmer times. What a beautiful legacy.


A deeply romantic and powerful true story, The Letter Men is a fantastic period piece to see on screen. Gordon’s words are raw and honest because they are real and Vallentine has brought them back to life in a sensitive and powerful way. Having premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in June 2022, it is exciting to see where this film goes next.

About the Film Critic
Amber Jackson
Amber Jackson
Short Film, LGBTQ+
bottom of page