Friday Film : Mr Turner – film review

Mr. Turner (12A) |
Dir. Mike Leigh, UK, 2014, 2h 30min, in (English)
Cast:  Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson and Marion Bailey

Review by Anthony Lowery

Mike Leigh’s biopic opens to a slow pan of the Dutch countryside to eventually reveal Mr. Turner, a teapot figure looming on the horizon demanding as much attention as a smudge on a clear canvas.

Like the artist he is, Turner is perfectly poised as he sketches a windmill; meanwhile, the blissful scenery contrasts shrill melodies that may be more at home in Sondheim’s Sweeny Todd.

Nineteenth century marine painter Joseph Mallord William Turner works from a studio in his London town house; a residence minded by his father (Jesson) and “all-purpose” housemaid (Atkinson) whilst he travels neighbouring cities in search of inspiration.

This period drama is Timothy Spall’s best performance in years. He renders Turner as a phlegmy, loutish fellow who shuffles around like a self-possessed penguin and who grunts like a pig in place of Victorian English.

Mr. Turner hasn’t much in way of narrative. Instead, here is a character study, a solid exploration of the “Painter of Light” that’s gorgeously filmed, with plenty of subtle humour to entertain even the inartistic.

In cinemas October 31st