Tom of Finland – The Movie is a film that has been eagerly anticipated by our community for several years. As many of us reading this know, Tom of Finland was actually called Touko Laaksonen, and was best known for his depictions of leather-clad, super-masculine guys. His artwork became the symbol of the leather scene the world over and the image that many guys aspire to represent. Tom of Finland premiered on January 27, 2017, at Gothenburg Film Festival and February 24, 2017, in Finnish cinemas before enjoying a worldwide release later in the year.
In this bio-pic Touko’s life, dreams and love are all portrayed in a stylish and sympathetic way. “In our country Laaksonen is the most famous artist in the world, a Finnish hero, which we have reason to be proud of. He was also a war veteran, and that’s why it feels great to get to present the actual movie trailer for the first time in the same week, when the celebrated Finnish independence, “says the film’s director Dome Karukoski. The director goes on to say that he considers this film the most important of his career and that, “…the film’s main themes of courage, love and freedom are close to my heart, and even more important, when you look at what is currently happening in the world.”
In the film we see the drawings carry Touko via Berlin to Los Angeles, which contrasts dramatically with his life in Finland. The unprejudiced atmosphere found in California leads to a recognition and appreciation of his art. All throughout the film, Touko is accompanied by an imagined version of Kake, one of his most infamous characters. As the film develops, Kake’s presence and influence become ever more confident, reflecting Touko’s own confidence in the appeal of his work.
The film uses a fragmented timeline on occasions in order to link the current narrative with past or future events and this helps to add a rich texture to the film. Significant moments in his life receive careful attention although, like in any story, there are some aspects of his life that are either omitted or truncated. Indeed having spent a good proportion of the film to establish Tom’s Finnish background, the film rushed through Touko’s American life without exploring any the perhaps more interesting and (even in today’s world) relevant issues.
Overall the film is measured and cautious, while being sympathetic to the subject matter, never sensationalising. Its matter-of-fact style fits perfectly with Pekka Strang’s fantastic nuanced portrayal of Touko and all the performances work together to bring us a world that at times appears to be so long ago but at others seems as relevant to today’s society.
The movie will be very popular, especially among those that appreciate Touko’s work in all its forms. It will serve as a timeless reminder of a different time and for those that haven’t experience oppression or discrimination, it will be an inspirational tale about the revolution in rights and struggles of sexual minorities that have lead to the freedoms so many more enjoy today.