image+nation culture queer


Zaida Bergroth | FINLAND & SWEDEN | 2020 | 100 min | FINNISH S.-T.EN.

In this impeccably designed biopic, we can feel every emotional texture of Moomins creator Tove Jansson’s lived experience as she goes from struggling painter to a celebrated comics strip creator for the biggest newspaper in the world, while burning with desire for worldly theatre director Vivica Bandler.

Although the years slip by – a war-ravaged 1944 to 1947 to 1952 – Tove is anything but a by-the-numbers biopic. Actress Alma Pöysti, in a scintillating performance, portrays the indomitable creative energy and changeable moods of the Swedo-Finnish multi-hyphenate with a remarkable kindness. Even when Tove is testing the openness of her would-be suitor (Shanti Roney) with her love affair with “irresistibly beautiful dragon” Vivica Bandler (Krista Kosonen), she does so with an honest attempt to be true to the moment, and to herself. Wracked by insecurity, Tove is also confident enough to profess, “ingenuity is my hallmark,” and it is spellbinding to watch a woman work to own every aspect of her unconventional existence. Backed by an endlessly quotable script, it is hard to resist Tove’s warmly humane account of hippopotamus-shaped page and stage darlings, hedonistic abandon, and the “secret language” of love.