An exploration of the last quarter century of the great, if eccentric, British painter J.M.W. Turner's life.
Thinking it was an excellent idea to turn Mr Turner into an art class outing for my students I was a bit put off when 3 of my students, having already seen it said it was awful, long and he was odious. Well, I thought, the tickets have been booked so off we went expecting the worst. At over 2 and half hours I thought it was going to turn into the longest evening ever! However I am very glad to report I was pleasantly surprised and was riveted throughout it all. It is however a required taste and I am not surprised it has had mixed reviews. Timothy Spall as Turner is Brilliant. He grunts, growls and gruffles throughout the film whilst using a wide vocabulary to show off his lurking intellect. He does not portray him as a refined man and the way he grabs his women through out really irked some of my female students. However it shows also his tender side, his closeness to his father and his relationships with Mrs Booth in his twilight years. This is a film about a great artist who has made it but never bends to society rules always sticking to his own path. His own vision.
Talking of vision the film is visually gorgeous. It was my favorite part of the film. The cinematography should get an award by the bucket load. The scenes and the lighting where as if you were in a Turner painting. Beautiful. A little nod to A Girl with The Pearl Earring I think. It was just a delight to let your eyes wander around the sets, especially if your an artist.
This film is a little long and Turner is portrayed as a very bright and astute but still basic, and at times rough man which will be not to everyone's tastes. However I would urge you to see it if you love Turners work or that period to wallow in its visual delights. Oh yes and a shout out for Dorothy Atkinson who plays his long suffering housekeeper and had all the laughs in the film. She started out a bit hammy as did the others but as the film builds they all got into their stride and she was a real joy to watch. Marion Bailey who played his last love, Mrs Booth also added sensitivity and gentleness to the film.
An arthouse film that is an acquired taste but for me insightful, beautiful and a real surprise.