12 January 2015

Mr. Turner

Mr. Turner 2014
  • Director: Mike Leigh
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Karl Johnson, Ruth Sheen, Sandy Foster, Amy Dawson, Lesley Manville, Martin Savage, Richard Bremmer, Leo Bill
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Timothy Spall  Harry Potter, The King’s Speech, Alice in Wonderland, Sweeney Todd, Auf Wiedersehn Pet, My House in Umbria, Nicholas Nickleby, Love’s Labour Lost, Topsy-Turvy, Our Mutual Friend, Hamlet, Secrets and Lies, Life is Sweet, Gothic, Quadrophenia
    • Paul Jesson – Coriolanus,(two versions) Vera Drake, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Richard III, Henry VI Parts One, Two and Three, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale
    • Dorothy Atkinson – Topsy-Turvy, Keep the Aspidistras Flying
    • Marion Bailey – Case Histories, Vera Drake, Meantime and various television series
    • Karl Johnson – Merlin, Copying Beethoven, Prick Up Your Ears, The Tempest, Rock Follies
    • Ruth Sheen – Another Year, Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky, Vera Drake, White Teeth, Secrets and Lies
    • Leslie Manville – Another Year, Cranford, Sparkle, Vera Drake, Rose and Maloney, Milk, Topsy-Turvy, Secrets and Lies, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, Dance with a Stranger
    • Martin Savage – Another Year, V for Vendetta, Vera Drake, Born Romantic, Topsy-Turvy
    • Richard Bremmer – Harry Potter, Control, To Kill a King
    • Leo Bill – Alice in Wonderland, Becoming Jane, Kinky Boots, Vera Drake, 28 Days Later, Gosford Park
  • Why?  Mike Leigh, the artist, Timothy Spall
  • Seen:  January 8, 2015, at the cinema with Hal and friend AB and UJ
Mike Leigh, Timothy Spall and Turner – what a combination. And what a film!
I don’t actually see so much of Mike Leigh in it. The subject matter is quite different from what we’ve learned to expect from him, but many of the actors have been in his earlier films. One of them is Spall who plays the role of a lifetime here as the growly, grunting, taciturn artistic genius.
There’s not a lot of story. We follow Turner’s everyday life in the first half of the 19th century, in his studio, on his nature wanderings, in society. Nothing much happens through most of the film. Much of the dialog consists of polite and sometimes long-winded greetings and meaningless conversation.  What can be more meaningless than a five minute (at least!) discussion about gooseberries? 
It’s very slow and quite long.  And amazingly, it’s also very interesting.
Essentially it’s a series of character studies of some very oddball individuals. Not the least is Turner himself, but also his aging, ailing, devoted and hardworking father, played by Paul Jesson whom we know well from his Shakespeare roles.  Hannah, the loyal possibly dim-witted and perhaps syphilitic housekeeper who shuffles around the enormous Turner house through the whole film. The kindly Mrs. Booth, the lisping pretentious Ruskin,  the obnoxiously indignant and eternally ill-used Haydon, the bitter and loudly complaining mother of Turner’s two daughters.
Most striking are the beautiful nature scenes, city and town settings and the lovingly detailed period interior. I love all the wallpaper!  The paintings themselves don’t play the major role I had expected, they just flash by. But what magnificent paintings they are.
It’s not as emotionally gripping as I had expected but it is fascinating and the entire cast is superb. Possible BAFTA and Oscar winners, all. It’s beautifully done and a must-see for Mike Leigh and Turner fans.

4 * of 5

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