Thursday, 3 September 2015
SEPTEMBER 3, 2015
MR. TURNER (2014) Directed by Mike Leigh. ****
I am not Mike Leigh's greatest admirer, something about his work irritates me. The early scenes of MR. TURNER are immaculately rendered vignettes of scenes from Turner's life, undeniably brilliant but lacking in context - like looking into the past but with no guide to explain what you are seeing, scenes which seem to be going somewhere then suddenly cut to something else. Yes, I began to get irritated, no doubt looking for some reason for disliking this Mike Leigh effort. This was no doubt compounded by my fond memories of the 1970's television film, THE SUN IS GOD based on the same subject and starring Leo McKern as Turner. However as the film progressed I was won over and thankfully Leigh begins to reveal some depth to his depiction of the great artist helped by the extraordinary performance by Timothy Spall. The film is funny, moving and, ultimately, distressing in equal parts. The scenes of encounters between the curmudgeonly Turner and such comtemporaries as Constable and Ruskin stick in the mind along with the amazing reconstruction of Victorian London - well worth watching the excellent "Making of" documentary if only to see how the remarkable set of the Royal Academy Exhibition at Somerset House was achieved. Okay, Mr. Leigh,
you win, I surrender. This is a terrific film.