Release year: 2014
Director: Mike Leigh
Screenwriter: Mike Leigh
Starring: Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Karl Johnson, Ruth Sheen, Sandy Foster, Amy Dawson
Ratings: 4 Oscar nominations: Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design. Cannes: Best Actor (Timothy Spall), Vulcain Prize for the Technical Artist (Dick Pope).
We follow the great British painter J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall) in the last twenty-five years of his life exploring his work, close relationships and growing eccentricism.
Mike Leigh’s (Vera Drake, 2004) biographic picture of acclaimed painter J.M.W. Turner premiered at Cannes Film Festival where it competed for the Palme d’Or and won two awards. Among the regonition it has received is Dick Pope’s amazing cinematography showing amazing skies and landscapes making the movie resemble the work of Turner by perfectly capturing the light he was so famous for creating as well as Gary Yershon’s beautiful score sets the perfect mood as it paints around the feelings on screen while daring to give us silence when needed. But the movie is called Mr. Turner and here he is brought to life by a stellar performance by Spall (The King’s Speech, 2010). Spending two years learning to paint in preparation for the part at request of Leigh he looks at ease working on a canvas but also manage to make a full-embodied character that has you emotional involved from early on. As he grunts his way through life he seems far more real than the cardboard people around him (as is obviously intended) and stands more and more out as he grows more and more eccentric. The loss of his father and best friend is devastating, the impact on Turner portrayed clearly through a raw emotional performance from the talented actor showing Turner as a mortal, flawed individual as well as a genius and all in all has you following his every move completly mesmerized. He gets strong support from a great Jesson (Coriolanus, 2011) as his loving father and a good Bailey (All or Nothing, 2002) as the kind Mrs. Booth but especially Atkinson (Topsy-Turvy, 1999) amazes as Turner’s devoted housekeeper keeping in the background where she manages to make an impact on us but sadly not on the man she wants to be noticed by. The story is told carefully and with respect by Leigh and the costume design and art direction that wonderfully ignores the often romantic look at the past and show a gritty yet beautiful reality so genuine you can almost smell it. Great achievements from everybody on board has made a moving picture out of a quite uneventful life and given us masterful glimpse of a mastermind that leaves you longing to see Turner’s work in real life.
The growing marks on Hannah’s (Dorothy Atkins) skin was due to her suffering from the skin-disease psoriasis. The actress spent 90 minutes in make-up every morning and even longer to have it removed.
Picture copyright: SF Film