|MR. TURNER (director/writer: Mike Leigh; cinematographer: Dick Pope; editor: Jon Gregory; music: Gary Yershon; cast: Timothy Spall (J. M. W. Turner), Dorothy Atkinson (Hannah Danby), Marion Bailey (Sophia Booth), Paul Jesson (William Turner), Dorothy Atkinson (Hannah Danby), Lesley Manville (Mary Somerville), Martin Savage (Benjamin Robert Haydon), Joshua McGuire (John Ruskin), Ruth Sheen (Sarah Danby), David Horovitch (Dr. Price), Marion Bailey (Mrs. Booth), Karl Johnson (Mr. Booth), David Horovitch (Dr. Price), James Fleet (Constable), Leo Bill (John E Mayall - photographer); Runtime: 150; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Georgina Lowe; Sony Picture Classics; 2014-UK)|
|"Imaginative and richly detailed
19th century period biopic on the last 25
years of the revered English artist Joseph
Mallord William Turner."
by Dennis Schwartz
legendary Brit filmmaker Mike Leigh ("Life
is Sweet"/"All or Nothing"/"Topsy-Turvy") directs and
writes with a peculiar sense of brilliance and honesty
this imaginative and richly detailed 19th century
period biopic on the last 25 years of the revered
English artist Joseph Mallord William
Turner (1775 - 1851). The
middle-aged Turner is depicted as a complicated,
cantankerous, eccentric, and controversial figure. He
acts like a cad with his out-of-sorts estranged wife
Sarah (Ruth Sheen) and his two
grown daughters, ignoring them at all costs despite
their needs. Turner also has some troublesome
relationships with fellow artists. He has a wary one
with his main rival Constable (James Fleet), and a
fiery one with the demanding Haydon (Martin Savage),
who are all members at the elite Royal Academy of
and famous Turner is either
reviled or adored by the public for his formless
style and obsession with light in his paintings.
Also, the master painter is coldly dismissive to
his long-time lovelorn housekeeper (Dorothy
Atkinson) whom he is not above
masterful oil and watercolor landscape
artist is deeply affected by the loss of
his ex-barber father (Paul Jesson),
who joyfully served as his assistant and confidante
while they lived together in their comfortable London
artist further develops his craft when he journeys to
Margate, where in anonymity he's
inspired by the sea to paint boats in distress,
sunsets and seascapes. Turner forms a warm
relationship with the twice-widowed seaside landlady
Mrs. Booth (Marion Bailey) and in
his later years will live with her in Chelsea. Turner
will die in Chelsea nursed by his Mrs. Booth, with his
last words uttered being "The sun is gone."
friends are only of the aristocrats from the Royal
Academy. His sex life is snatched from his frequent
brothel visits. Turner is pictured as often in a top
hat silhouetted against the landscape, as he paints in
the country. He's a man of few words who often scowls.
In Margate, he gets strapped to the ship's mast so he
can experience it in a snowstorm. This became his most
famous painting, and the one the public knows best.
film is stunningly beautiful, as cinematographer Dick
Pope shows us the world as Turner might have seen it.
The performance by Timothy
Spall is majestic. The non-judgmental
personal portrait of the artist effectively lets us
judge for ourselves Turner as the passionate creative
artist and Turner as the artist who refuses to be
compromised. He's the public spirited man who refuses
to just sell his work for a large sum but rather
bequeaths it to the government so the public can see
the art for free. Turner is the flawed man, a great
artist with serious women and social skill issues.
The pic has heart and soul, and ranks as one of the better insightful artist biopics.
REVIEWED ON 6/9/2015 GRADE: A
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ