Friday, 14 November 2014

Mr. Turner

director: Mike Leigh
year: 2014
with: Timothy Spall, Marion Bailey, Dorothy Atkinson, Paul Jesson, etc.

plot: It's the last quarter century in the life 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.

what I liked: As usual I love films set in Victorian times and particularly enjoyed all the scenes at the Royal Academy with the who-is-who of the art world present. My favourite scene must be a highly eloquent but utterly pointless discussion amongst young John Ruskin and his circle about the cultivation of gooseberries, hilarious. Dorothy Atkinson as his submissively admiring housekeeper is stunning - she has hardly no lines but says an awful lot through her mimic. And it certainly is fascinating to see a main character like Turner communicating mostly through grunting an growling...

what I didn't like: ...this, of course, makes the film a little bit difficult as well as Turner is an interesting but not a very likeable character. After 150min of a portrait of manners you still are not closer understanding who this man really was. If you don't read up a bit on his life and works this film alone won't help you.

verdict: It is a long and quiet film so if you are not in the mood for any of that leave it. If you are interested in art and the Victorian times though this is a must see.
The actors are all very good so I wouldn't be surprised to find this film at the Oscar nominations next year.


  1. Oh, danke für's "Erinnern". Den will ich auch noch sehen ... gleich mal für Dienstag notieren.