In a poor working class London home Penny's love for her partner, taxi-driver Phil, has run dry, but when an unexpected tragedy occurs, they and their local community are brought together, and they rediscover their love.
Set in the 1880s, the story of how, during a creative dry spell, the partnership of the legendary musical/theatrical writers Gilbert and Sullivan almost dissolves, before they turn it all around and write the Mikado.
Mr. Turner explores the last quarter century of the great if eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851). Profoundly affected by the death of his father, loved by a housekeeper he takes for granted and occasionally exploits sexually, he forms a close relationship with a seaside landlady with whom he eventually lives incognito in Chelsea, where he dies. Throughout this, he travels, paints, stays with the country aristocracy, visits brothels, is a popular if anarchic member of the Royal Academy of Arts, has himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he can paint a snowstorm, and is both celebrated and reviled by the public and by royalty.Written by
In a scene late in the film, Turner is shown in the Royal Academy laughing at several pre-Raphaelite paintings, two of them by John Millais, one of the founders of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Timothy Spall's son Rafe Spall portrayed Holman Hunt, one of the other three founders, in the mini-series Desperate Romantics (2009). Critic John Ruskin, a character in both films, championed the pre-Raphaelites and J.M.W. Turner more than any other contemporary artists and considered the pre-Raphaelites to be the successors of Turner. See more »
When Turner is tied to the mast of the ship the snowflakes stick to his face and are foam. Snow is not made up of foam. See more »
I saw this film last night, in a good cinema with a good screen and new projector and the reason I start off with this will become apparent soon. The film is quite stunning. We sort of drop in to Turner's life at a random point and we follow it on from there. It is not plot-heavy - we are simply viewers of what is happening to this man. Some of what happens to this man are dull and we see a bit of that too. I'm going to analyse the film in a moment, but overall, this is a brilliant film. In the small cinema you could have heard a pin drop - everyone was spellbound. Sometimes when I see a film, my mind drifts to other things, but not during Mr Turner. I was transfixed and left the cinema with that feeling you only get from seeing a masterpiece.
OK, now let's break it down. Mike Leigh is a supremely good director. He allows time for the story. He does not go if for quick cutting - scenes are long and we watch the actors move as though from the far side of the room. This is a relaxing and engaging technique that aspiring directors would do well to copy. His screenplay provides the backbone to the whole film, and it is crafted so well - capturing just who this man Turner is.
Film-goers seem to be interested in stars and actors but to me, actors are just actors - they are two a penny. The 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, not a tacky popcornplex. Ask your cinema manager what projectors they use and don't go there if they are not modern top quality units. Dick'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. Shot on Alexa Plus - the best digital camera - and with beautiful Cooke Speed Panchro Lenses that together produce a better than film-like quality. Oh, and nice to see the sound recordist in the opening credits, because hearing the words clearly as well as the Foley and other sounds is really important - you don't want to struggle to hear things when you are enraptured with the pictures.
Having been a bit disparaging about actors generally, they are all good in this film as you might expect, and Tim Spall's Turner has lashings of character. But, this is where I would be tempted to mark this film down to an 8 from an otherwise 10. I know that Turner was an larger-than-life character but I think it goes just a bit too far - there just too much grunting and strutting about - it all gets a bit waring after a while - nobody would really be like that all the time. Of course, that is down to Leigh who clearly wanted Spall to bring the character to full life like this. I've seen Spall so often in films and on the TV and he often ends up in parts that require larger-than-life acting. His superb Fagin in Oliver Twist for example. He is not an actor who over acts, but a great character actor who is able to magnify his character when the director demands it. Fortunately for us and him, he is not a "film star" - just an ordinary guy who happens to be a very professional character actor. But, actually, all that grunting and strutting is very entertaining and adds a spice to an otherwise factual film - so back to 9!
At two and a half hours, this is a long film and it has a slow pace, but is is never less than 100% engaging. It is a perfect example of the sort of film we in the UK do so very very well, whilst the US churns out ridiculous hack action movies that are forgotten by the time you get home. If you appreciate true quality and don't mind a bit of grunting, you will not be disappointed.
p.s This film deserves to be seen at a good cinema - it looses a lot visually on a TV.
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Get to know the fractured films of Yorgos Lanthimos, director of Oscar-nominee The Favourite. And join us here for the IMDb LIVE at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party, streaming at 7:30 p.m. EST/4:30 p.m. PST on Sunday, Feb. 24.