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The Crack Magazine

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Tove

In her fifth feature film, Zaida Bergroth paints a charming and poised portrait of the illustrator Tove Jansson, most famously known as the creator of the Moomins.

The film follows Tove from World War II to the mid-fifties, as she sets out to discover the world in peace time, herself, and life outside of her father’s shadow. It explores her relationships with Atos Wirtanen and Vivica Bandler, but it’s the scenes depicting the latter that stick with the viewer longest. Whether set in Jansson’s war-scarred apartment or the moonlit streets of Paris, they perfectly illustrate her journey from the delicate, ambitious girl in the first frame, to the strong, successful woman in the last.

Alma Pöysti excels in capturing both Jansson’s lightness and courage. Alongside the equally brilliant Krista Kosonen (Bandler), she explores the depths of their romantic entanglement, and in doing so captures the character’s lust for life. When considering a career in comic-strip illustration, we see worry, insecurity, and regret. And in the discovery of her father’s supportive side, she signs off with the emotional release that her collected performance had promised from the off.

Fans of the lovable cartoons will enjoy the hand-drawn sketches and how the film draws comparisons between its subject’s life and work. In one scene, Jansson remarks of Moomintroll, “love makes him brave.” In a voiceover, she talks of giant flowers growing in the twilight, clearly reflecting her own growth.

Watching life imitate art draws the viewer into the film. That, the impeccable sets, and the director’s elegant handling of Jansson’s story makes for a compelling watch.

Thomas Hutchinson

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