Tom of Finland (2017) - Rotten Tomatoes

Tom of Finland (2017)

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Critic Consensus: Tom of Finland honors its subject with an empathetic, even-handed, and above all entertaining look at the pioneering art he produced from private turmoil.

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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 and 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.

Cast

Pekka Strang
as Touko Laaksonen
Lauri Tilkanen
as Toukon kumppani Veli "Nipa" Mäkinen
Jessica Grabowsky
as Toukon sisko Kaija
Werner Daehn
as Müller
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Critic Reviews for Tom of Finland

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (11)

In a subtle but wily performance, Strang never loses sight of his character's innate sense of resistance.

December 14, 2017 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Karukoski turns a promising story into a flat, clammy bore.

December 7, 2017 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

In the end, the overarching theme of "Tom of Finland" is the power of art, even - or maybe especially - so-called deviant art.

December 6, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

"Tom of Finland" entertainingly recounts an intriguing and vital chapter of 20th-century gay history with style and deference.

October 19, 2017 | Full Review…

Tom of Finland is a good, strong movie, but never threatens to be great. One salivates at the adventurous directions the film could have explored.

October 18, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Why does Tom of Finland play like an over-cited term paper? The film is jammed with incident and detail but there's little flow to the storytelling ...

October 17, 2017 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Tom of Finland

NO-MO-EROTIC - My Review of TOM OF FINLAND (2 Stars) How could a film about a legendary gay artist who pushed the envelope with his intensely sexualized images of impossibly beefy men be so unsexy and dull? If that was their intention, then they pulled it off! TOM OF FINLAND, directed by Dome Karukoski with a screenplay by Aleksi Bardy and six (SIX!!) other credited writing assists, means well, and tells a important story in gay history, but man is it a long slog. Born Touko Valio Laaksonen in 1920 and played by the extremely charisma-free Pekka Strang, the film rather artfully intercuts his time as a World War II soldier with his struggles to live as a gay man in Finland. It was a time of arrests, bar raids, and bullying if you were perceived to be gay. Touch retreats into his fascination with art, drawing image after image of pumped-up gay men. It was his way of giving to the community a powerful avatar, ones that could fight back against oppression and express desires many wouldn't dare to do. Eventually, he would be discovered in Los Angeles, where he traveled and built a loyal, adoring audience. The looks of 1970s butch and leather men were inspired by his work, instilling in the gay community a heretofore untapped confidence to stand up to its oppressors. As such, Tom of Finland, as he was eventually called, can stand beside the Stonewall Rioters as an integral part of the early gay rights movement. Karukoski knows how to tell a visual story and there's something magnanimous and touching about Tom's journey. This quiet, unassuming man stayed that way even while others adored him. It's a lesson in humility in the face of success. The film has its moments, especially in the Los Angeles section, where it picks up some much-needed steam. I enjoyed the sequences where they seek out a Hassidic Printer, who may be their last hope after getting rejected by everyone else. The AIDS crisis also rears its ugly head, further cementing the inspiring work Tom did and how it made people feel good despite the horrors surrounding them. Pekka Strang may be accurately portraying Tom, but if so, it doesn't make for compelling viewing. I just didn't really care to follow around this dullard for very long. It made me realize that a film can be important and unbearable simultaneously!

Glenn Gaylord
Glenn Gaylord

Super Reviewer

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