Helsinki, 1945. The end of the war brings a new sense of artistic and social freedom for painter Tove Jansson. Modern art, dizzying parties and an open relationship with a married politician: Her unconventional life puts her at odds with her sculptor father's strict ideals. Tove's desire for liberty is put to the test when she meets theatre director Vivica Bandler. Her love for Vivica is electric and all-consuming but Tove begins to realise that the love she truly yearns has to be reciprocated. As she struggles with her personal life, her creative endeavours take her in an unexpected direction. While focusing her artistic dreams on her painting, the work that started as a side project, the melancholic, haunting tales she told scared children in bomb shelters, rapidly takes on a life of its own. The exploits of the Moomins, infused with inspiration from her own life, bring Tove international fame and financial freedom. There's a daily comic strip, a stage play and stories that continue...
Nice and heartwarming story about one of Finland's most famous authors
Tove Jansson was a Swedish-speaking Finnish author and artist born in the 1910s to an artist family. Internationally she's most well-known as the author of the Moomin books and comics strips. This film is the story of her formative years and how she came up with the Moomin characters.
Upon its release it became the second most expensive Finnish film made to that point. And it does look good, I'll give it that, although I'm still not sure just why it needed such a large budget. But the locations and costumes look good. The film is also shot, edited and acted really well, with special mention going to Alma Pöysti as the leading character.
It's also interesting to see the author behind these beloved characters and how her own life influenced the books. Jansson's own rather bohemian lifestyle is definitely reflected in the books and her various acquaintances and friends that would eventually inspire many of the Moomins are also really interesting.
That being said, the film is not as Moomin-heavy as you'd think. It's more a story about a struggling artist and her various trials and tribulations. Successes and losses in both her career and personal life. And while that is interesting enough, I confess to being somewhat disappointed that there wasn't more Moomin content in this film. Then again, Jansson herself expressed in her later years that she's a tad miffed she's only known for Moomins. So perhaps in that regard this film is more respectful to her than many other sources have been.
Nevertheless, it's a great film to look up. Technically sound, well-written and beautifully acted. Not awe-inspiring or overly emotional, but then again, it doesn't need to be.
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