Mr. Turner Movie Review
You’ll hate it, they said, “they” being the other critics who know my disdain for long movies where not a lot happens. And for movies about artists. They were wrong. Mr. Turner, about mid-1800’s painter J.M.W. Turner, is a surprisingly engrossing drama… despite being long and not much happening.
Timothy Spall turns in a great performance, as long as you count grunting, grimacing and otherwise hating life as a great performance. The actor, best known to American audiences as Wormtail in the Harry Potter movies, is downright perfect in the role; his grumbling, offbeat demeanor exudes entertainment value in every scene.
The movie itself, written and directed by Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky), is well made, properly balancing the depiction of Turner the artist with Turner the man. To call it groundbreaking, breathtaking or mindblowing would be going way too far, but for what it is--a movie about an eccentric artist--Mr. Turner delivers.
All that being said, Mr. Turner is still a period piece, and as such has all the trappings of a period film--stodgy characters, strange dialogue and restrained emotion. But Mr. Turner does what any good period does, turning these trappings into assets as best as possible.
Mr. Turner is not for everyone. It is a period piece, it is long and not a lot happens plotwise. But despite all this, Mike Leigh has made another quality piece of filmmaking. Recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.