Tom of Finland Reviews
I think if a majority of movie goers saw all of Tom of Finland's work, they would understand why I think the movie studio that produced it watered down the gay. Ever seen the movie Cruising? Take the murder out of it, and the gay scene in cruising was far more accurate of the time of when Tom of Finland Art was at it's peak. Those were the type of men he drew. Uninhibited, and packed full of sexual masculinity.
I am a bit surprised if you don't know the great late artist's name and/or haven't seen any of his work. Like, for example, Walt Disney or Herluf Bidstrup, he surely is one of the greatest artists of modern time, instantly recognizable and unforgettable for its style and soul.
I would say his drawings are like nothing else out there, although I actually don't know much about gay culture and its antics. But this is art at its purest and most powerful. It's unique, it makes you feel something and it talks to you, regardless of your sexual orientation and/or attitude towards homosexuality. Lust is universal.
The story is nothing original, the classic rags to riches" success story blueprints made popular by Oliver Stone's Wall Street" (1987) that the other movie makers still eagerly copy.
Which means that you can often guess where it's going and because of that, there's a risk of reaching the saturation point before the end, probably in the last third.
I enjoyed the ride in full, actually, but the risk is real. Maybe it would help that every movie using this formula wouldn't be around two hours long? It's not like it's gonna become magically fresher in long movies after 30 years.
But the formulaic story and the typical low-key I am a Finnish movie" look are not what make Tom of Finland" shine.
But what it lacks in inventive storytelling or visual flashiness, it more than makes up in heart and conviction. It's not just an re-enactment of a famous person's life, you can literally feel the lust that drove him, and men like him, on screen.
This is well conveyed by actors, especially Pekka Strang who seems to be straight in real life but does not shiver back from releasing his inner man-eater in hope for making everything come alive on screen.
This is not a comical role, and he really dives into the role so you can really buy him as the great artist. All this longing, need to break free from social chains, and satisfaction with getting what he wants seem authentic and real when they show on his face on screen.
Watching the gay scene, forced into hiding and later coming out in the open, is interesting as well. Creeping around, always giving out and trying to read subtle signs from other men, and desperation in the danger of being found out. The director has done a great job bringing this alive, as history lesson which is also entertaining to watch.
This is Finland's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film competition at 2018 Academy Awards. I think it's not serious" enough to have a realistic chance of winning... but who knows. Dome Karukovski is quite a big deal among modern Finnish movie directors, says IMDb.
So... Tom of Finland": an artist and now a movie even straight people can like! I know I do.
If you want recent similar movie suggestions, check out 2013's Behind the Candelabra" starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, it's great!
If I have any gay or bi readers, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the movie.
How could a film about a legendary gay artist who pushed the envelope with his intensely sexualized images of impossibly beefy men be so unsexy and dull? If that was their intention, then they pulled it off! TOM OF FINLAND, directed by Dome Karukoski with a screenplay by Aleksi Bardy and six (SIX!!) other credited writing assists, means well, and tells a important story in gay history, but man is it a long slog.
Born Touko Valio Laaksonen in 1920 and played by the extremely charisma-free Pekka Strang, the film rather artfully intercuts his time as a World War II soldier with his struggles to live as a gay man in Finland. It was a time of arrests, bar raids, and bullying if you were perceived to be gay. Touch retreats into his fascination with art, drawing image after image of pumped-up gay men. It was his way of giving to the community a powerful avatar, ones that could fight back against oppression and express desires many wouldn't dare to do. Eventually, he would be discovered in Los Angeles, where he traveled and built a loyal, adoring audience. The looks of 1970s butch and leather men were inspired by his work, instilling in the gay community a heretofore untapped confidence to stand up to its oppressors. As such, Tom of Finland, as he was eventually called, can stand beside the Stonewall Rioters as an integral part of the early gay rights movement.
Karukoski knows how to tell a visual story and there's something magnanimous and touching about Tom's journey. This quiet, unassuming man stayed that way even while others adored him. It's a lesson in humility in the face of success. The film has its moments, especially in the Los Angeles section, where it picks up some much-needed steam. I enjoyed the sequences where they seek out a Hassidic Printer, who may be their last hope after getting rejected by everyone else. The AIDS crisis also rears its ugly head, further cementing the inspiring work Tom did and how it made people feel good despite the horrors surrounding them.
Pekka Strang may be accurately portraying Tom, but if so, it doesn't make for compelling viewing. I just didn't really care to follow around this dullard for very long. It made me realize that a film can be important and unbearable simultaneously!