Starring: Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson
Director: Mike Leigh
On his death bed, celebrated landscape painter and watercolourist Joseph Mallord William Turner, who was a divisive figure in the 19th-century art world, reportedly lamented, “So I am to become a non-entity.”
Mike Leigh’s impeccably crafted biopic, which concentrates on the final 25 years of the artist’s career, ensures the genius of Turner lives on.
When it comes to greatness, Spall’s embodiment of an artist with few social graces and a surplus of talent is the stuff that Oscars were made of.
Mr Turner opens with the breathtaking image of the artist capturing the rising sun over fields in Belgium.
He returns to London and the home he shares with his father William (Paul Jesson) and housekeeper Hannah Danby (Dorothy Atkinson).
The relationship between the two men is sketched in exquisite, heart-warming detail in these early scenes, with Turner warmly embracing his “daddy”.
Turner channels his energy into his work, which continues to raise eyebrows at the Royal Academy Of Arts.
Spall is imperious and Leigh surrounds his lead star with an impeccable supporting cast of familiar faces. The 150-minute running time passes too quickly, holding our attention with ravishing costumes and period detail as well as a haunting score.