Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Mr. Turner (2014)

A few weeks ago I saw the movie Mr. Turner, about the English painter William Turner (1775-1851). Since I generally quite like Turner’s paintings, I hoped to see a very good film.

Let me begin by saying the movie looks beautiful, the landscapes where Turner walks are shot beautifully, and you recognize his paintings here.

I also liked anecdotes like how he was tied to the mast of a ship during a storm so he could paint the storm better, or how painters in those days had to make their own paint.

I really liked certain things, like the relationship Turner had with his father, that was very moving.
I also liked the relationship between Turner and Mrs. Booth, the pension keeper from Margate who he has an affair with (perhaps not the right word, later they lived together in Chelsea)
And I enjoyed how the film showed how modern things like trains and photography became more and more important.


Turner on a trip
But that is where the good things ended. The movie did not tell a story, it was a collection of fragmented scenes, Turner on a trip, Turner at home, Turner in a brothel, Turner on a trip, Turner with his housekeeper who seemed to have scabies, Turner on a trip, Turner at the Academy etc.
Some scenes were completely unnecessary and far and far and far (far!!) too long.

It seems director Mike Leigh did not intend to make a straightforward biopic, well I think we can safely say he succeeded.

Timothy Spall plays Turner, but unfortunately I know him as Pettigrew in Harry Potter, so it took a while before that image left my head.
As Turner he shows him to be sloppy and even unsavory character, who grunts and coughs more than he talks, but who is not unsympathetic.
In short, Mr. Turner was beautiful to look at (when the housekeeper with scabies was not in the frame), but this movie does not tell you more about Turner, and I personally was a little bit disappointed with that. 
Turner painting at home

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