Finland, Sweden, 2020 / 102 min / Swedish & Finnish OV with English subt. / Biopic, Drama
A film about Tove Jansson, the author of the popular Moomin books.
Helsinki, 1945. The end of the war brings a new sense of artistic and social freedom for painter Tove Jansson. Modern art, dizzying parties and an open relationship with a married politician: Her unconventional life puts her at odds with her sculptor father’s strict ideals. Tove’s desire for liberty is put to the test when she meets theatre director Vivica Bandler. Her love for Vivica is electric and all-consuming but Tove begins to realise that the love she truly yearns for has to be reciprocated.
As she struggles with her personal life, her creative endeavours take her in an unexpected direction. While focusing her artistic dreams on her painting, the work that started as a side project, the melancholic, haunting tales she told scared children in bomb shelters, rapidly takes on a life of its own. The exploits of the Moomins, infused with inspiration from her own life, bring Tove international fame and financial freedom. There’s a daily comic strip, a stage play, and stories that continue to delight people around the world. But as she begins to find her artistic identity, she has to learn to find herself. Her unrequited love for Vivica is preventing her true liberty and only by learning to break away from her can she truly be free.
“Director Bergroth injects the fizzing energy of that archival sequence throughout the film by making Tove’s wild dancing a visual leitmotif, beginning with the opening prologue. Like Bergroth’s previous film Maria’s Paradise (2019), also a nuanced, fact-based period drama focusing on female relationships, the even more ambitious Tove beguiles audiences into the world of its characters.
Marking her fifth feature, Bergroth flexes her considerable cinematic powers, conjuring vibrantly expressive visuals and confident performances from her talented cast, especially the petite theater thesp Pöysti, who excels in her first leading film role and strongly resembles the real Tove. Her connection with the character is all the deeper for having previously portrayed her on stage.” Alissa Simon, Variety, 09/09/2020
“Tove is in ways comparable to Todd Haynes’ 2015 drama Carol. The same sense of desire finds a balance with Bergroth’s own vision. Linda Wassberg‘s cinematography and Samu Heikkilä‘s editing contribute to the creative framing, giving the film a more authentic look, while never letting go of the loneliness that grows stronger with each frame, letting this feeling linger on while the credits roll. Tove is a captivating first-class drama about a world-renowned talent in search of her own identity, love and freedom.” into:screens, 9/09/2020
“Anyone who caught director Zaida Bergroth's earlier feature Maria's Paradise will spot a family resemblance between that film and the new one. Paradise riffed on a true-life-inspired, 1920s story about a Finnish religious cult, told through the eyes of an emotional but physically chaste triangle among three women. Similarly, Tove, though more assertively carnal, finds contemporary echoes in a historical setting, once again delving into a subculture just on the edge of the bourgeoisie. Politics is more forward in the mix, with talk of socialist principles bandied about. Characters sneer at Vivica Bandler (Krista Kosonen), the woman who will be Tove's great love, for being a rich girl, the daughter of the mayor no less, who's playing at being an artist by directing theater.” Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, 16/12/2020
“The Tove of Zaida Bergroth’s film is constantly dancing to the sound of her own special song both literally and metaphorically. The final images are of the real Tove Jansson in joyous movement on the sun-kissed island that she made home. They seem an apt reflection of an intrepid spirit and a film that explores the costs and rewards of her search for independence. […] Covering a formative decade or so in Jansson’s life, Tove has great charm, craft and a warming glow that finds further expression in a jazzy soundtrack that bounces playfully from Glenn Miller to Benny Goodman via Edith Piaf’s heartfelt ‘C’est Merveilleux’.” Allan Hunter, ScreenDaily, 10/09/2020
Zaida Bergroth is a Finnish director and screenwriter born in 1977. She is most famous for her 2017 film Miami, which follows two sisters as they embark on a road trip to pay off their debts. In 2009, her film The Last Cowboy Standing won the Best Debut award at the Busan Film Festival, and was awarded the Finnish national Jussi for Best Screenplay and Best Sound Design. In 2011, her film The Good Son won several awards at international festivals, including the Chicago Film Festival, Prague Film Festival and the Mons International Film Festival. Tove (2020)is her fifth feature film.
- 2020 – Tove
- 2020 – Kristal (short)
- 2019 – Marias paradis
- 2018 – Oona (short)
- 2017 – Miami
- 2011 – Hyvä poika
- 2009 – Last Cowboy Standing
- 2007 – Kunnanjohtaja (short)
- 2007 – Heavy Metal (short)
- 2004 – Glass Jaw (short)
- 2002 – Last Minute Shopping (short)
- 1999 – The Weatherman (short)
- 1999 – Veera (short)
- 1998 – Hair (short)