Movie, Reviews

“Tom of Finland” a Pencil for a Sword

Those interested in the sexual revolution of males in the 1970’s, may want to check out the biographical film Tom of Finland. The famous graphic artist used his drawings to express his feelings for men and their enactment of physical contact. It may be a possibility for awards consideration and “pushes the envelope” with its gay sexual edge.

Following a stint in the Finland Army as a Lieutenant and honored for his courage, Touko Laaksonen (Pekka Strang) returns to his daily life in Oslo to live with his sister Kaija (Jessica Grabowsky). But, being a homosexual has its downside in Finland where gay men are treated with disdain and even prosecuted by law enforcement. Cautiously gravitating to clubs that allow gay relationships, Touko tries to find love and companionship.

Pekka Strang as Touko Laaksonen in TOM OF FINLAND

His ability to draw with pencil, Touko starts to use his talent to express his feelings for men. After seeing his art, friends urge him to contact interested parties that could display it. A challenging proposition due to the climate in Finland, he gets an opportunity to introduce it in the United States.

Pekka Strang as Touko and Jessica Grabowsky as Kaija Laaksonen in TOM OF FINLAND

Director Dome Karukoski delivers a forceful depiction of the determined Touko who goes up against the establishment in this ode to the “infamous” champion of gay rights. His film does more than show the negative side of the man’s being addicted to his sexuality and a disquieting arrogance that may offend a segment of film goers. But, like most “chancy” films like last year’s Moonlight, an audience will find their way into theaters around the country.

Touko Laaksonen (Pekka Strang) tries on a leather jacket in TOM OF FINLAND

The performance by Pekka Strang as Touko the gay liberator is disciplined sticking to the character in even the steamiest scenes. He shows he can depict a strong will, not backing off from what he believes even during physical confrontations. The character makes the film work and Strang nails it from start to finish.

Tom of Finland has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains graphic sexual material, sex, nudity, war violence, and language. The movie has been entered for consideration of an American Oscar for best foreign film. The movie spools out in Finnish and English with English subtitles.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A film worthy of Oscar consideration, but will have to find a breakthrough audience for any strong box-office receipts.

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Pekka Strang, Lauri Tilkanen, Jessica Grabowsky, Niklas Hogner, Jakob Oftebro. Seumas Sargent, Werner Daehn, and Kari Hietalahti
Directed by: Dome Karukoski
Writer: Aleksi Bardy
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, contains graphic sexual material, nudity, language
Running Time: 1 hr. 55 min.
Release Date: October 20, 2017
Distributed by: Kino Lober

Tom of Finland opens this Friday in Los Angeles and will release wide in the near future. Check your local listings for a theater and showing times.

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 12 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at jdelia@acedmagazine.com

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