One of the films selected for the Tribeca festival this year was Tom of Finland, based on the life of Touko Laaksonen (Pekka Strang), a gay illustrator who has a huge talent for homoerotic art, but can not make a career in his country.
In fact, Touko’s career is certainly the least interesting part of the plot, even being her big focus. The shocking report of Finland at the time, when homosexuality was forbidden, is the most interesting part of the film. Ironically, the film comes to broach a very current discussion, the controversial gay cure, which had apparently been used since the 1940s in stricter countries.
Obviously, Touko can not sell his illustrations in Finland and starts trying in other countries, with a failed attempt in Germany, until finally finding his place in America, where his art is truly appreciated. Under the pseudonym “Tom of Finland” he becomes a success and an inspiration to the country’s LGBT community.
Paying homage to the real Touko, the film shows her life, her love relationships and her relationship with her sister, Kaija (Jessica Grabowsky), who also tries to career as an artist. From the postwar decline to his rise, the film details all the ways the character has gone and his difficulties.
The direction of Dome Karukoski is great, but the one who deserves the real highlight is the makeup team. Showing from the youth to the old age of the main cast, the diseases and aging of the characters are a piece of work, perfectly convincing.
Tom of Finland tells a very interesting story and very suitable for the current times, since it seems that we are regressing when it comes to social acceptance. Showing the grip of a homosexual, struggling to rise in a place where he was not accepted, the film is inspiring.