Mr Turner (2014) | DVD blu release

February 7th, 2015
Author: Meredith Taylor

MR_TURNER_still_2 copyMr Turner | Best Actor – Timothy Spall | Cannes 2014 | Biopic |149mins

Director: Mike Leigh

Cast: Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Joshua Maguire

Mike Leigh’s ambitious biopic of J M W Turner’s last twenty years serves as a worthy and painterly tribute to a national treasure. In a performance of some complexity, Timothy Spall portrays the ‘painter of light’ as a romantic gruffalo with a heart of gold but a curious style of love-making. The film opens in 1826 in a magnificent Dutch landscape where Turner is visiting to develop the impressionist style of his later years. A solid British cast works to the ‘Leigh family method’ fleshing out contempo social history: At the Royal Academy we meet arch rivals John Constable (a haughty James Fleet) and other Leigh ‘staples’ (Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen). At home in his studio, Dorothy Atkinson plays his obliging house-keeper, a willing recipient of his sexual abuse. All are carefully worked into the narrative along with a humorous vignette from Joshua Maguire as a geeky live-wire John Ruskin. In Margate, Turner finds peace amd contentment with a local landlady (a luminous Marion Bailey). Victorian England is very much a character, proudly flying the flag of the Empire at its peak but Leigh, in a apposite twist, is keen to underline that Turner left his works to the Nation and not the homes of the rich Victorian industrialists who had funded him. Although this is a departure from his usual subject matter; in casting his usual collaborators it all feels very ‘Mike Leigh’. MT

REVIEWED AT CANNES 2014

MR TURNER IS now on DVD blu

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