Cert: 12A Runtime: 150 mins Director: Mike Leigh Cast: Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey and Karl Johnson
The sun is God! Ha ha ha!
Timothy Spall has received a lot of positive review portraying J.M.W Turner, for me I have only studied a bit of Turner’s work in the past. But never really knew much about the man. Mike Leigh is a master British film-maker and has really at the helm of it for years. So what is Mr. Turner all about? In the mid 1820s, J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall) shares a studio with his elderly father William (Paul Jesson) and housekeeper and occasional lover Hannah Danby (Dorothy Atkinson). The brilliant, if eccentric landscape artist avoids his aggrieved former mistress, Sarah Danby (Ruth Sheen) – Hannah’s aunt. He also barely acknowledges the existence of their two daughters. Travelling to Margate incognito in search of artistic inspiration, he meets and forms a great passion for widowed landlady Sophia Booth (Marion Bailey).
For a biopic we really don’t get to learn much about the man. There isn’t a plot to it really, we just follow him around. It’s interesting that we do witness life during the 19th century. But at some moments I did feel bored. Timothy Spall grunts and groans his way through the spartan dialogue he is given to portray the coarse and slovenly painter, who shows a clumsily more tender side towards his father and the widowed Mrs Booth (Marion Bailey). The movie – and Spall’s towering performance – is an eloquent tribute to the great mystery of genius coming in unlovely disguises. he real stars are the creative people – Leigh of course and in this case Dick Pope the DOP who has surpassed himself here. The film is visually stunning – which is why you need to see it in a good cinema that gets the best out of the visual image.Pope’s camera positioning, his lighting, his colour palate and his camera movement which he uses very sparely are a joy to observe. He does his own operating and that shows. No fast zooming or unnecessary camera movement, no clever stuff. Just visually stunning. This is what make Mr. Turner a worthy watch, you may need some patience. But for imagery alone it’s worth it.