‘Tom of Finland’ is a great look at history… but where’s the erotica?

Tom of Finland | Cinema Paradiso | Sunday July 30 | ★ ★ ★ ½

There is no denying that when I heard about a Tom of Finland biopic my initial thought was this is going to be soft-core pornography, which I was ecstatic and excited about. For all of those that are like me and are wanting a movie that they can save to the wank bank and jerk off over for hours on end this movie IS NOT FOR YOU.

Can you imagine my disappointment when a movie about a gay erotica icon contained a few flaccid dicks in the first five minutes some glimpses of side bum and very infrequent and often silhouetted scenes of fully clothed anal and guys getting head in parks in minimal moonlight.

Now that has been cleared, and my disapproval with not seeing erect dick in a movie vented, I can say it is a good movie. I don’t know what it is about gay history but if you enjoy learning and being reminded how far queer movements have come – this is a great picture to give you a snapshot of the culture of cruising and hooking up in years past.

The movie spans over 50 years, so it shows the difference not only between different cultures but criminalisation laws in different time periods. This then combined with the society perceptions of pornography and erotic art meant the movie had a good story line and even better acting (something I don’t always expect from queer films).

More than the acting being really good, I do have to highlight that the some of the boys in this movie were BEAUTIFUL. I swear I have a new favourite actor after seeing this film… something fuelling my disappointment from the lack of nudity is that I would love to know what one of the actors in particular looks like underneath his clothes.

Two things that I think people should be aware of is, firstly, the makeup used to change the age of the actors throughout the film is very subtle and I personally don’t think it’s very well done. From the first scene you see Tom to the last scene 50 years later, it does not appear to have traversed the amount of time they claim.

This led to the second issue I had which is that it is quite hard to keep track of what time period it is in the movie as they do not show dates on the screen, so you sort of just have to guess or wait for an event in history to occur before you can put two and two together.

All in all, it was an interesting story line with good acting and what appears to be a decent budget resulting in a well-made film. I found it fascinating and sort of empowering to watch to see just how resilient and diverse the gay scene is, and was, and even better to see how gay culture does foster a community that takes care of, and inspires, one another.

Well worth a watch! (Even without the expected nudity…)

Tom of Finland is playing at Cinema Paradiso as part of Scandinavian Film Festival on Sunday July 30th. Tickets and more information available here.

Matthew Bacon

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