This film follows the life of Touko Laaksonen, more commonly known as the gay erotica artist, Tom of Finland. It follows him though his war years and through the time he used his pseudonym to spread his art around the counter culture leather gay scene until he is finally realized as an important artist for that community and achieves a certain level of fame and respect.
Nicely filmed and well acted, the film does give a good impression of the passage of time and the issues of problems that came up for Tom and his art in each decade. The aging makeup is top notch and natural looking. I am not a big fan of his style, but I would think anyone can see there is a talent and passion in it, transcending the "just dirty drawings" label it was often given in his earlier years. Sure, the bodies are overdone and fantastical in some ways but the faces are honest and bring personality to each character. His work exposes a hidden culture, hidden even to most gay people in a humanizing and positive way.
I found the AIDS era stuff very compelling - and hard to get through - as I remember it too well but I am glad its in there and I'm glad they cover it. Tom's erotic art was partially blamed for the epidemic by many people and he stopped drawing for a time because of his guilt. Luckily, he rose above that and continued on, providing a positive example of love and sex in a time when those things were being demonized. His influence and art is often copied and parodied but his legacy is one many artists would be happy to have for themselves.
The director's next film was "Tolkien" and seems to examine war and its effects on a very different artist and this movie makes me want to check that out as well some day.