Tom of Finland

Tom of Finland review film poster

Director: Dome Karakoski
Cast: Jakob Oftebro, Werner Daehn, Pekka Strong, Lauri Tilkanen, Niklas Hogner
Genre Biography, Drtama
Language: English, Finnish, German with English subtitles
Country of Origin: Finland-Sweden-Denmark-Germany-USA @017 116 mins. (18)
Released by Peccadillo Pictures

Dome Karakoski's biopic of the legendary Finnish gay erotic artist and activist Touko Laaksonen (Pekka Strang) places his drawings centre stage but fails to give it a political context.

Returning after the trauma of World War II Touko Laaksonen moved in with his younger sister Kaija (Jessica Grabowsky), found work as an illustrator and evenings spent developing his homoerotic drawings. Amusingly Dome Karakoski slots in Laaksonen's leather clad creation Kake (Niklas Hogner), as a smiling observer as Laaksonen fetish fantasy takes shape - cartoon-like drawings of leather clad, uniformed, square jawed muscle men that would eventually be signed 'Tom.' Tom of Finland's work remained part of the gay underground scene until encouraged by Veli (Lauri Tilkanen), a young ballet and later a lover, he sent drawings to LA publisher Doug (Seumas Sargent). California, with it's sense of freedom proved a turning point, his work emerged from the underground but commercial success in the 1979s and 80s coinciding with the AIDS epidemic led to suggestions that the gym fit, hyper masculine culture

The early parts of the film are the most interesting with two defining moments, meeting Captain Heikki Alijoki (Taisto Oksanen) and the killing of a Russian parachutist that impacted on Touko Laaksonen's life. Homosexuality was a criminal offence in Finland and Laaksonen led a secret life of clandestine sexual liaisons in parks, orgies with the ever present risk of arrest and police brutality. Unfortunately prior to his move to America, the film skims the surface of daily repression, police brutality and the politics of the time. Little did Touko Laaksonen realise that MOMA in New York would hold his work and in 2014 Finland's postal service offered a limited series of stamps with his erotic gay images

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Release Type: 
Release date: 
Friday, August 11, 2017 - 01:15