What a let-down I found this! I don't know what led me to think that this would be a semi-documentary of the justifiably revered artist (real name, Touko Laaksonen) whose utterly brilliant cartoon creations played such a major part in my (then closeted) gay development and awareness, and through a lot of my later life. I thought it might include some real film footage of the artist at work in addition to, perhaps, a few reconstructed acted episodes.
The film turns out to be a straightforward depiction of his life from fighting for Finland in World War Two up to his achieving international fame and adulation in the 1980s (he died in 1991, from emphysema) - and most disappointingly, it's all rather dull. However, if I'd realised it was just his acted-out story I still would have wanted to see it - and would have been just as underwhelmed.
The title role in this Finnish film (nearly all in that language, of course) is played by Pekka Strang (left in above pic) who, like the man in real life, looks nothing like his fantasy creations and, also like the real man, hasn't the kind of face or figure to turn most(?) heads. He doesn't suit the leathers either, which he dons in the film's final part.
I'm not sure what the trouble with this film is, there being enough incidents in his life before he became a world-renowned figure to make a reasonably interesting story - after the war his night-time cruising in a Helsinki public park with the attempts of the oppressive Finnish police trying to stamp out homosexuality by catching, arresting and imprisoning the men engaging in gay activity, every bit as homophobic as all the rest of Europe was in the 1950s.
Then we see his travels to Berlin and attempts to get his drawings published there - and meeting similar discouraging attitudes, as well as further conflict with the equally anti-gay German police.
He lives in Helsinki with his slightly younger sister who, belatedly and reluctantly acknowledging his tastes, makes disapproving noises, though falling short of outright hostility.
He then takes on and lives with a younger and nicer-looking lover, though there didn't seem to me to be much significant emotional chemistry between the actors.
The film for me only came alive - and that only patchily - in the final half hour (including the onset of the AIDS crisis) when his fame, broadcast initially from California, was assured. It ends with his receiving due worshipful adulation from an adoring audience of American leather fraternity.
There are no explicit depictions of real-life sex in the film, only a few fleeting glimpses of some drawings.
Incidentally, it's a very, very long time since I've seen another film - if indeed I ever have - where everybody is continually smoking (a reflection of those times, of course, particularly the 1950s-70s). It was such a prevailing sight that I was beginning to think it must have been compulsory to have a fag in one's mouth. (Now there's a thought!)
I don't know if half-Finnish director Dome Karukoski is gay or not, and it ought not to matter, but if he has any enthusiasm for the subject and his creations it didn't translate onto screen for me.
On IMDb I'm in a minority - yet again! - where there's a current high average rating of 7.4. (6.5 on 'Rotten Tomatoes'). Frankly, I found it all a bit of a drag...............3.5.
1 hour ago