Follow Genre: Drama
Director: Mike Leigh
Distributor: eOne Entertainment
Duration: 150 minutes

Mr. Turner (Blu-ray) – Movie Review

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Good: Good acting, beautifully shot, well put together
Bad: Long duration, lack of plot
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Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)

J. M. W. Turner was one of the most famous painters of the 18th century. His work, stunning landscapes mostly painted with oils, rivalled the popular paintings of historical events. Turner was also one of few painters who achieved success during his lifetime, he was rewarded with wealth and fame. As a most brilliant artist, he also had a darker side, with bouts of depressions, partly due to jealousy and criticism from his contemporaries.

mr.turner-bannerMr. Turner tells the story of the last 25 years of the life of this extraordinary artist. Turner (Timothy Spall) has already become one of the greats and is often travelling abroad to paint his masterpieces, visiting the Netherlands and Belgium for their unique landscapes. Back home, he shares his house with his father William Turner (Paul Jesson) and his housemaid Hannah Danby (Dorothy Atkinson). Turner and his father have a very close bond, but the old man is nearing the end of his life and this greatly troubles the artist. His relationship with Hannah is very different, while she loves him deeply, he simply (ab)uses her for all his desires. Meanwhile, Turner also has to deal with a woman with whom he fathered two daughters. The painter however denies all responsibility and wishes nothing to do with the lives of the three women.

A critical points arrives when his father passes away due to old age. In an attempt to run away from everything, Turner makes a couple of trips to Chelsea incognito in order to lose himself in his paintings. When going to Chelsea, he always stays in the same inn, ran by Sophia Booth (Marion Bailey), a woman who takes his fancy. Near the end of his life, he has to deal with a deteriorating health, which also has its effects on his eyesight and thus, his paintings.

mr.turner-1Mr. Turner is directed by Mike Leigh and he has created a visual masterpiece. Most scenes either start or end with a painting come to life, placing life and motion into the pieces of J. M. W. Turner. Such artwork elevates the whole movie and with good use of sound it becomes an excellent viewing experience. The actors are also bringing their best performances: Timothy Spall is finally escaping his string of supporting roles to become the main attraction and he does it in a stunning way, giving us an inspired performance. Hopefully this will allow Spall to take more lead roles in the future. Paul Jesson is also great as Tuner’s father, combining frailty and strength to portray a man who has been around and seen it all and is now nearing the end of his life.

Dorothy Atkinson is tasked with the hardest job of all the actors, having to portray a woman who is deeply in love with Turner, but only receives contempt and abuse. Bailey does a wonderful job making Hannah Danby, the housemaid, believable and turning her into someone you really start to feel sorry for. Marion Bailey is playing at the other end of the emotional spectre, since Sophia Booth mostly gets to see the positive side of Turner. The old woman has suffered quite a lot in her life and the two becomes kindred spirits over shared loss.

mr.turner-2So, with excellent cinematography and outstanding acting, this film could be classified as a modern day classic. The reason why it is not, is because of the total absence of a plot. Leigh takes various events from the life of Turner and shows them in chronological order, but forgets to actually tell a story in this biography. This makes for a weird effect: after nearly three hours, we haven’t learned anything about the inner mindset of Turner. It would’ve been interesting to see why Turner was in such a foul mood his entire life, or how his depressions affected his painting. All that remains a mystery however, save one or two sentences that address his past. This also makes the three hours feel quite long, with a lot of moments that could’ve easily been cut from the film.


Mr. Turner is a movie that is clearly made with passion and skill. There is a lot of work put into the canvasses, the camera work and the musical composition. The actors bring their A-game with them and do their best to make the characters complete human beings, instead of easy stereotypes. However, for a movie with so many good aspects, it is a shame that the content of Mr. Turner is pretty limited and the lack of real story weighs heavily on the on the flow of the film.


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Mr. Turner (Blu-ray) - Movie Review, 5.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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