Scandanavian film ‘Tove’ explores the life of the creator of the Moomins


Tove | Directed by Ziada Bergroth | ★ ★ ★ ★  ½ 

As the film opens, artist Tove Jansson (Alma Pöysti) is in a Helsinki bomb shelter during the last days of World War II, doodling hippo-like cartoon characters she calls Moomins to entertain the children. These charming characters have their own secret language and hearts of gold but her father, who is a famous sculptor, belittles her and tells her to concentrate on her painting instead of wasting her time on the scribbles.

Moving out of home at the age of thirty, Tove struggles to survive as her art doesn’t sell and established artists such as her father get all the grant money. As an artist, she lives on the edge of the bourgeoisie whose parties liven up her life. Believing that life was a wonderful adventure and one should explore all its twists and turns, Tove also begins an affair with married left-wing politician Atos Wirtanen (Shanti Roney).

Atos provides emotional support and, when she puts down her paintbrush and picks up her pencil, he publishes her comic in the socialist newspaper he produces. However, there is no comparison with the all-consuming passion she feels for the mayor’s daughter, theatre director Vivica Bandler (Krista Kosonen). Vivica becomes the beautiful dragon who advises Tove that she should get married as “it’s very convenient to be married”.

Pöysti is bewitching as Tove dances her way through life, her Moomintrolls become world famous. Unfortunately, she finds out that dragons rarely attach themselves to humans. As music carries the audience through the decade between the end of the war to the mid 1950s, Tove searches for her identity and female relationships become more recognised.

Tove screens at the Scandinavian Film Festival which showcases films from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – from 14 July to 4 August 2021 – at Luna Leederville, Luna on SX and Palace Raine Square.

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Lezly Herbert

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