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Boys will be bland…

OUT NOW! The biopic story of TOM OF FINLAND who depicted hyper-masculine hunks is a play-it-safe affair for someone so daring.

The story of the pioneering Finnish artist behind the iconic illustrations depicting hyper-masculine hunks clad in leather, wearing tight uniforms and often with their dicks out, is inherently fascinating. Touko Laaksonen, aka Tom of Finland, was honing his craft back when gay sex was illegal, and inspired everyone from Mapplethorpe to Mercury. Director Dome Karukoski chronicles with care, helming a glossily-shot piece that crams a lot into its 115-minute runtime. From the artist’s wartime beginnings to publication in pre-AIDS US, he and screenwriter Aleksi Bardy spread the material a bit thin.

While the film fails to delve satisfyingly into the queer politics of the time and doesn’t quite capture the provocative, transgressive spirit of its central figure or his influential iconography, Pekka Strang gives a strong turn as the icon of clandestine gay subculture. But the jury is still out on whether the film fully merits the rapturous standing ovation his character gets before the end credits – a lazy and recurring trope in biopics nowadays – or whether Strang’s performance fully salvages an often play-it-safe biopic.

Tom Of Finland | Directed by Dome Karukoski (Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany 2017), with Pekka Strang. Starts October 5

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