Spring. Yorkshire. Young farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker for lambing season ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path.
Touko Laaksonen, a decorated officer, returns home after a harrowing and heroic experience serving his country in World War II, but life in Finland during peacetime proves equally distressing. He finds peace-time Helsinki rampant with persecution of the homosexual men around him, even being pressured to marry women and have children. Touko finds refuge in his liberating art, specializing in homoerotic drawings of muscular men, free of inhibitions. His work - made famous by his signature 'Tom of Finland' - became the emblem of a generation of men and fanned the flames of a gay revolution. Written by
This was a hit tonight at Tribeca Film Festival. A very fine biopic. I came away thinking how paradoxical that Scandinavia was so far ahead of the US in its relaxed attitude towards sex -- but only of the hetero variety. This film shows how tragically oppressive life was for gays (at least gay men) in Finland as late as the 1970s. When "Tom" / Touko Laaksonen arrives in L.A. to the adulation of the gay community, it's a joyous catharsis. But I disagree with the reviewer who wrote that the film wouldn't make anyone blush. Many viewers -- outside the Chelsea NYC crowd that attended tonight -- will indeed blush and even squirm, if not at the (albeit discrete) gay sex scenes, then at the artwork itself which is beyond explicit. I would advise viewing Tom of Finland's XXX-rating-worthy art before seeing the film. If you're open-minded, you will be well-rewarded... It falls short of a 10 for me because it lags in places, and the time and place contexts are often confusing. Other than that, it's an extremely well-made film that portrays the soul of an artist brave enough to break the constraints of his society and the times. It also powerfully depicts Touko's wartime experience, and how that filters into his later life -- a universal theme.
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