Written and directed by Mike Leigh, Mr. Turner is a film that looks at the artist known as Turner (don't you know). Although it's far from a definitive look at the life of the man, it certainly feels like it. This is a hefty investment of your time, clocking in at about two and a half hours, but those minutes fairly fly by.
Timothy Spall gets the title role, and if you can tell me a bad performance that he's given in the last two decades then I'll be interested to hear your thoughts. As far as I'm concerned, Spall is one of those actors who always seems to be on top form, and this film gives him what could be considered his best role yet. Gruff and grunting, yet also amusing, learned and polite, Turner is always shown to be equal parts man and artist. He may mingle with the upper-classes, but seems to prefer avoiding recognition in favour of anonymity during times when he is free to live his life, seek out inspiration, and not have to worry about exhibitions or sales.
I don't know exactly how much of this movie is true, or based on truth, but it certainly feels authentic. This is a world in which works of art are enhanced with a little bit of spit mixed in to the paint. It's a world in which you can smell, and even almost feel, the materials.
A great cast lends Spall their full support, with standouts being Paul Jesson (as William Turner), Dorothy Atkinson (as Hannah Danby), Marion Bailey (as Sophia Booth), and Martin Savage (as Benjamin Robert Haydon). All of these people contribute something important to Turner's life, even if it's just a healthy sense of perspective afforded by seeing the failings and misfortunes of a fellow artist.
Like all good biopics, this keeps the viewer engaged throughout and encourages further exploration of the subject once the end credits have rolled. The times may have changed, of course, but the drive remains the same in the mind of all artists. As does the turbulent times that can alternate between feast and famine.
Leigh may have produced a movie that seems to wander aimlessly from one seemingly disconnected moment to another, but the broad strokes do eventually receive some fine detailing. You can really start to appreciate how everything falls in to place in the second half. The full picture IS here. You just have to take a few steps back to fully appreciate. Which is often the way with great pieces of art.
Eager to pick up Mr. Turner? Then this UK disc is the only option for now - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Turner-Blu-ray-Timothy-Spall/dp/B00OZJ2W0I/ref=sr_1_2?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1420306412&sr=1-2&keywords=mr.+turner
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