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
Tom of Finland is definitely one of the most anticipated Finnish movies in 2017, and with reason. Many of us already know the homoerotic art made by Tom of Finland - art which has made its way to textile and even post stamps. This film directed by Dome Karukoski introduces us to the man behind the stage name - Touko Laaksonen.
The story is both touching and really empowering. It has heart wrenching drama, but it's also a message of hope, which is something we need right now, considering how scary the world feels right now. But it was certain from the beginning that this movie will make people feel all kind of things. People will be furious about it, mostly because people already feel that way about the art. Some people are not into anything that's so blatantly homoerotic. But as Dome Karukoski said today, it's a loud minority that's against this movie and everything it stands for, not a majority.
One of the most important things about the film is how Touko Laaksonen wasn't flattened, which worse director and writer(s) could've easily done. Of course this is affected by the fact that the events of the film take place during several decades, so there's no reason for Laaksonen be the same all through the movie. But I'm mainly talking about Laaksonen was introduced to us as a both sensitive typical artist and as a gay icon. If they would've tried to leave out the homoerotic art, it would've erased a big part of Laaksonen's identity. On the other hand if they had only focused on the gay icon side of him, the character could've easily become flat. And isn't it quite impossible to even take these two parts of Laaksonen completely apart from each other, since they aren't really that separate?
It's also amazing to witness how Laaksonen is affected by where he is and who he is with. In the middle of mostly straight people he has to hide parts of himself, and his Tom of Finland side isn't as visible. But in California, among the gay community, he can openly be who he is. I'm sure many closeted non-straight people can identify with this.
We all know our modern world isn't completely equal yet. Still it's horrible to see how much worse the hatred towards gay people was when Touko Laaksonen was younger. But comparing that to now, it gives us a little sparkle of hope, that maybe we are going in the right direction. And Tom of Finland movie is coming out (by coincidence, as Karkukoski stated) at the perfect time, and I'm not just talking about the Finland's 100th year as an independent country, but these few weeks. As of first of March, same sex marriage is legal in Finland. So this movie clearly couldn't have come at a better time.
Tom of Finland is a wonderful, touching movie about an artist who is so very important to the gay community. It's a touching biography, and everyone who can should watch it
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