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"Mr. Turner" Movie Review

Mr. Turner
Photo courtesy of Sony Classic Pictures

Mr. Turner (2014)

Mr. Turner is British painter J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall), considered one of the preeminent painters in the 18th century. Turner grew up a son of a barber and uses the workmanlike attitude with his painting. It's his job, and he excels at it. He is driven, always has his drawing pad with him and is constantly looking for his next subject. He is a gruff man who has a high opinion of his talent and his work. He is a big man who is more likely to grunt to a question than give a reply. Turner at times can be nice, but it's usually with rich patrons and or fellow painters. He is especially harsh with women, whether it's his long-time housekeeper Hannah (Dorothy Atkinson) or his ex-wife and their grown daughters, of which he doesn't want anything to do with.

Mr. Turner1
Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Turner's one true friend is his father (Paul Jesson), who he treats with respect and love. The father is equally proud of his son and helps his son prepare paints and canvases. Hannah, used to the routine of the house, also helps in the preparation of his painting, knowing his moods and his movements down to a t. It's painting that drives Turner, and he won't let anyone get in the way of his work.

Mr. Turner3
Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

It's a beautiful film, and Cinematographer Dick Pope is worthy of his Academy Award nomination. He uses light the way that Turner captured it in his paintings, with lots of warm yellows and reds. The first scene of the film is breathtaking as Turner is painting the windmills of Holland at sunset. Turner liked to paint at sunrise and sunset and many of the scenes of him painting use that light to its utmost bathing Turner on the screen with the same warm glow of his paintings.

Mr. Turner7
Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Mike Leigh wrote and directed this film that takes place over the last 25 years of Turner's life. The film plays out in little vignettes, as we see slices of Turner's life. It makes for a rather disjointed film, as you try to figure just how much time has elapsed since the last scene; Leigh uses his typical cast of character actors to fill out the cast. This allows Spall to dominate the scenes, making his performance even more remarkable. Its amazing performance by Spall, and it's sad that he didn't get the Oscar nod. Dorothy Atkinson is great as the put-upon housekeeper willing to do just about anything to keep her employer happy. Marion Bailey is lovely and a joy to watch as a widow who takes Mr. Turner is first as a border and later as a lover late in his life.

Mr. Turner6
Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The film is helped by the production design by Suzie Davies. A good deal of the film takes place in Turner's home, and we can almost feel the dampness of the house in the sets. Costumes by Jacqueline Durran added to the mood, and the score by Gary Yershon is warm and lush, just like Turner's painting.

"Mr. Turner" is a film where its performances are better than its script. At times, the film feels stuck, as the plot doesn't always move. It's a film that while beautiful to watch, and Timothy Spall gives an impressive performance. It just doesn't live up to the majesty of Turner's paintings.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee

My movie rating system from Best to Worst:  1). I Would Pay to See it Again  2). Full Price  3). Bargain Matinee  4). Cable  5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again

The film is playing exclusively in Atlanta at UA Tara Cinemas 4

"Mr. Turner" Website

To read more of my reviews and interviews click here

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