Film biographies of artists tend to focus on their best-known facets.

So in the cinema, Vincent van Gogh goes into a clinch with Paul Gauguin ("Lust for Life" with Kirk Douglas, 1956), Virginia Woolf goes into the water ("The Hours" with Nicole Kidman, 2002), Alfred Hitchcock shoots "Psycho" (“Hitchcock” with Anthony Hopkins, 2012) – to take just three striking examples.

What was Tove Jansson supposed to do in Zaida Bergroth's "Tove"?

Your Moomins draw, of course.

Andrew Plathaus

Responsible editor for literature and literary life.

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Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that!

In the hundred minutes of film action, you can see the funny character ensemble that made the Finnish author (1914 to 2011) famous for just a hundred seconds.

As a newspaper comic, the Moomins first conquered England and then the whole world from 1954 onwards.

Stories about the snub-nosed troll family written in Swedish – Jansson's mother tongue – had existed since 1945, but it was the English mass audience of comic strips that ensured the international triumph of children's books, which were illustrated by Tove Jansson.

But hardly a word about that in the film.

Instead, a story of self-discovery that begins with Tove Jansson painting and ends with it – as if the Moomins had gone astray.

Jansson remained loyal to them for four decades;

only the Sisyphus work on the daily comic strip she gave up again in 1959.

On the other hand, however, the film tells of Tove Jansson's love life, and it suits today's zeitgeist that she didn't really want to decide on a gender.

There is the social democratic politician Alos Wirtanen, whose shyness not only enchants us as viewers, but also Tove Jansson.

And there is the theater director Vivica Bandler, who captivates with her harsh charm.

For Tove Jansson she becomes the love of her life.

which remains largely unfulfilled.

All of this is true, as one knows from the testimonies of those involved (and at the very end Bergroth cuts into a small film that Bandler made of Jansson dancing in the wild - a captivating document of joie de vivre, which is also the motif that recurs in the feature film newly accentuated by Jansson's attempts at dancing).

And all of this is performed by a triumvirate of actors from Alma Pöysti in the title role between Krista Kosonen and Shanti Roney with such subtlety in the swaying of each other's feelings that it's a real pleasure.

Eeva Putro's screenplay may be dismissed as plain, but what the cast make of it can hardly be called anything but grandiose.

About the struggle for paternal recognition

We actually only know Finnish cinema through the films of the Kaurismäki brothers.

Bergroth's "Tove" has nothing to do with her mood and aesthetic, just as she tried to stage the emotional challenges of this great Swedish-speaking artist in a way that would be inspired by Ingmar Bergman.

Nature, for example, hardly plays a role for Bergroth;

her characters move almost exclusively through interiors, and for the color language of the film she chooses the technicolor palette of Hollywood melodramas from the forties and fifties, in which the plot is also based, befitting the epoch.

The great feelings that simmer behind the seemingly feather-light staging are also taken from works by Douglas Sirk or Vincente Minnelli.

The fact that there is not much room for psychologically developed supporting roles in addition to the three main actors is a downer, especially in the case of Jansson's father Victor, who as a sculptor was a well-known Finnish artistic personality, but appears on the screen like the decal of an aesthetic reactionary.

Struggling for paternal approval is Tove Jansson's third challenge in the film, and when she succeeds it also ennobles a second dilemma.

Whether this is about work or private life should remain open here.

And the Moomins?

In addition to the hundred seconds of quick glimpses of the inimitably drawn world of Schnupferich, Snorkfräulein or Hatifnatten, there is the heartwarming longer scene of a theater performance that Vivica Bandler conceived based on Jansson's children's books.

And whoever sees the character of Hemul on stage, senses the love that Jansson had for her creatures, even in the casualness that “Tove” applies to this seemingly purely show value.

And so the film, which is dedicated to her life and loved ones, is not only contemporary, but also timeless.