Drama/Biopic, 1 h 40 min
A lyrical and romantic biopic of Tove Jansson, the beloved creator of the Moomins.
Moomin lover or not, this film will definitely have you fall in love with its quirky and free-spirited author.
The Moomins have enriched many childhoods, and its beautiful world has stayed with many of us all the way into adult life. In this biopic we are given a glimpse of Tove Jansson’s life and her journey from failed artist to loved children’s book author and illustrator. Director Zaida Bergroth takes us through the bohemian art circles of Tove’s early life in post-war Helsinki, where she struggles as a painter, develops the world of Moomin and discovers queer love.
As a Swede, for whom the world of Moomin was an important part of my childhood, it’s a bit magical to see the beloved cartoon grow and be shaped by the creator’s real-life experiences and relationships. Especially interesting is the influence of her stormy relationship with Vivica Bandler (Krista Kosonen), the blueprint for the characters Thingumy and Bob who have their own secret language, always hold hands and carry a suitcase in which they are hiding the King’s Ruby – not too hard to unravel that symbolism! Vivica is Tove’s queer awakening and, oh, how we root for them to end up together, despite the jealousy arising from their open and bohemian lifestyle.
As much as I adore a good, queer love story, I was curious to get further insight into other areas of Tove’s life. The blossoming career as the author of Moomin is the result of – what Tove herself calls – a failed career as a painter. Her reluctancy to develop the cartoon, despite getting many opportunities to do so, can easily be traced to her desire to get the approval of her father – a well-renowned sculptor – who doesn’t consider her ’doodles’ to be art. I would’ve appreciated a closer look at Moomin’s journey to fame and Tove’s conflicting feelings behind the scenes, which now only scratches the surface.
It’s refreshing to watch a lesbian period piece where the protagonists main struggle isn’t to keep their relationship a secret. The only depicted homophobia comes served as the classic ”you’re only experimenting”- comment from Tove’s other lover, Atos Wirtanen (Shanti Roney). Instead of focusing on the issues queer women would’ve fazed at the time, screenwriter, Eeva Putro, lets us experience the whirlwind that was Tove Jansson. Moomin lover or not, this film will definitely have you fall in love with its quirky and free-spirited author.
Watch the trailer
This article was written by:
I’m Rebecka, a London based Swede with a passion for theatre - and filmmaking.