Movie: Tom of Finland
My Rating: 3 stars
I liked this movie. It’s a biopic of artist Touko Valio Laaksonen, better known by his nom de plume, Tom of Finland. Of course, the subject matter is titillating. As an artist “Tom” was known for his erotic drawings featuring strapping, muscle-bound bikers, sailors, and cowboys getting into all kinds of mischief. He’s probably most well-known for his images of leather-clad bikers wearing varying levels of mostly-functionless straps and harnesses. This guy loved excess. No lad was ever too beefy, no pants were ever too tight, and no bulge was ever too large. Images were almost comically larger-than-life. And, it was super interesting getting to know a little more about the man responsible for these “scandalous” images. That’s especially the case since Tom was creating this art in a country that was very intolerant of homosexuality at the time.
It’s for that reason that I wouldn’t call this movie a lot of “fun.” Because, while we do have pleasure of getting better acquainted with this fascinating artist, a good portion of the film deals with the oppression that Tom had to live through while living in Finland. It was a place where engaging in activities that were even perceived as being homosexual was a crime. And in the movie, it appears that the police enforced the law quite brutally with various raids and sting operations. But ultimately, this is an uplifting movie. It’s important to show the extent of the harassment that gay men lived through in order to appreciate the freedoms that came later. (And even the freedoms that Tom got a taste of while visiting San Francisco).
So, I liked this movie. I had never really known much about Laaksonen as an artist other than a passing familiarity with his images of burly bikers. So, I enjoyed learning more about what his life was like, and who he was as a person. And, there are probably a good amount of you that will enjoy learning about him too. But, I can definitely see how this movie might make some people uncomfortable, with all the explicit, erotic drawings that we get a gander at. You know how when you’re watching even a very chaste movie, someone always manages to walk in on you during the only sex scene? Well, this movie is full of opportunities for embarrassment. So, I wouldn’t recommend watching this with anyone who’d get their feathers too ruffled by watching scenes of an artist lovingly sketching throbbing, bulging crotches. But really, the rest of the content is pretty tame. So, just use your discretion when choosing a viewing partner.