★★★★, Highlight Reviews, Reviews
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Mr. Turner (2014)

mr turner

  • Directed by: Mike Leigh
  • With: Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson
  • 150 Minutes

“Wormtail is back as an eccentric British painter who likes to squeeze the dame’s bewbs”

After a long period of hard work at college, I’m back at last to tell you my thoughts on some of the movies I’ve seen recently! Timothy Spall presents himself as the great British painter J.M.W. Turner in a Biographical drama directed by Mike Leigh, a director I’ve never heard of but who surprised me a lot by delivering one of the most interesting titles of the genre this year. Mr. Turner is a journey into the mind of a creative man who was willing to risk his life in order to produce a majestic work of art. For those who still think this is just an historical movie about art I must say you’re quite far from guessing what is the plot of the story. In Mr. Turner we witness the rise and fall of a genius while we look carefully into his way of seeing things. Was he a lunatic, an eccentric man or a genius? Read my review to understand a bit who this famous painter is.

J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) is a well-known British painter who was part of a society strongly divided according to both social and economic conditions. While part of his work was praised by fellow artists, public and royalty, Turner travels and paints to give the world a glimpse of the way he sees the world. Affected by the death of his father and loved by a housekeeper he takes for granted, Turner starts a relationship with a seaside landlady who rented him a room in one of his trips. Mr. Turner reveals his successes and flaws by exploring the last quarter century of his life, from the sexual exploitation to his relationships with aristocrats and the members of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), the vicious Wormtail from the Harry Potter saga gives an exquisite performance while representing the painter’s wishes and fears. The way he deals with his father’s death and the way he deals with the criticism are defying in every sense of the word, since for most of the time he appears to be indifferent to everything but all of sudden he changes his behavior and starts paying more attention to the world surrounding him. Turner is a talented, kind but misunderstood man who has difficulties in expressing himself in the middle of a conversation and who has the ability to impress everyone with his amazing paintings. Capable of putting his life at risk just to get the best possible painting, Turner reveals to be a genius but at the same time a crazy man. From the sexual exploitation (the awkward bewb squeezing moments) to the way members of the Royal Academy of Arts criticize each other, Mr. Turner seizes the unusual mentality of one man to criticize the society of those days. While the rest of the cast sees no chance to shine a bit, Timothy Spall is the center of the audience’s attention and the heart of what could be a masterpiece but that unfortunately ended up being another historical movie that surprisingly featured a different and interesting main character.

The historical aspects in Mr. Turner are interesting but it was the way Mike Leigh represented the society that I enjoyed the most. The way everyone easily forgets the ethics and respect for each other, just to criticize another man’s work is used as a complement to prove why Turner doesn’t pay so much attention to commentaries regarding his paintings and can be also seen as a commentary towards a society in a constant changing of thoughts that demands to be surprised every single time. The pace of the movie is quite slow but the intriguing and challenging performance of Spall is a good reason to keep the viewer focused in the whole picture. There’s an interesting scene in which a member of the Academy is attacked by his fellows with some harsh criticism and he ends up quitting the group, while Turner only cares about his vision and his way of seeing things when he is introducing his work.

Overall, the whole picture might be seen as a quite interesting movie with a great character development that follows the rise and fall of a creative genius. While the movie’s slow pace is somehow unattractive, Timothy’s great performance demands to be seen. My opinion regarding the movie was constantly changing and even though I thought the pace was too slow and even though there were times in which nothing was happening, I still find Mr. Turner one of the most interesting experiences of 2014. From Spall’s performance to the criticism of the society I’ve already mentioned, when all the pieces are gathered, everything makes some sense while the mystery surrounding Turner remains.




  1. Leigh’s films don’t demand your attention, they just work so effortlessly, that you practically have to just give in. Good review.

    • Thanks man! This was my first experience with Leigh’s films and I must say it was a lot different from what I was expecting… His way of demanding our attention is just like you’ve said and all those small and peculiar details from Mr.Turner are amazing. I’m curious to see some of his movies after watching this one. Oh and by the way… Thanks for your comment! A very late wish of Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

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