Biopic focuses on woman behind beloved cartoon
The world is full of squishy, big-hearted characters for children to adore and admire.
Belgium bequeathed us the Smurfs, France the Barbapapas and Holland, Miffy and friends. From Britain came Mr. Men and Little Miss, Japan produced Totoro and America begat
Gumby and, more recently, Baymax from Big Hero Six.
Predating them all were the Moomins, a collection of happy hippopotamus-like creatures, though their creator,
Tove Jansson of Finland, insisted they were trolls from Moominvalley.
Finnish director Zaida Bergroth doesn't shy away from the genesis of the Moomins in the biopic Tove, but the film is more concerned with the artist's love life. Jansson would meet her lifelong partner, Tuulikki Pietilä, in 1956 when she was 42 years old, but before that she had a torrid relationship with theatre director Vivica Bandler (Krista Kosonen) and another with the philosopher Atos Wirtanen (Shanti Roney).
We first meet Tove as an impoverished artist in 1944 Helsinki, trying to make a go of painting, but constantly drawn to her cartoonish drawings.
(In a bitter irony, this makes her an outcast in a family of artists, as her father, a famous sculptor, jabs a clay-dusted finger at her work and proclaims: “This isn't art.”)
What follows is a pretty standard but watchable story, enlivened by a lead performance by actress Alma Pöysti, who also bears a striking resemblance to Tove.
I was hoping for more of the Moomins themselves but, to fair, they've had their share of attention in film and television, music and even theme parks — Moomin World and the more recent Moomin Ice Cave.
Tove provides a sprightly introduction to the mind behind the Moomins.