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Sunday, 8 February 2015

Mr. Turner

Most of us (yours truly included) would remember Timothy Spall for just one role – “Wormtail” from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (small appearance also in Order of The Phoenix).  But that doesn’t anyways change the fact that Spall is one of THE most talented actors of our time.


Mr. Turner is all about Timothy Spall and his performance of the role of a celebrated artist from the early 19th century called Joseph Mallard William Turner (Spall).  The story covers the latter part of Turner’s life with a primary focus on 3 people other than Turner himself.

Firstly there is Turner Sr. i.e. Joseph’s father William (Paul Jesson) who was the local barber and now helps Turner with all his heart.  It doesn’t take time to figure out that the two were extremely close.  The story also covers the impact of William’s eventual passing on Turner and his art.

There is Hannah Danby (Dorothy Atkinson) who is Turner’s housekeeper and is in total awe of the man.  She does everything that Turner asks of her including sexual favours from time to time.  Over time, it would be safe to say, that she falls for the talented artist – to the extent of being jealous of his other affairs (if you could call them that).

Then there is Sophia Booth (Marion Bailey) who is the landlady of a Chelsea house that Turner frequents.  Turner and Booth start living together after the passing of Mr. Booth.  He stays with her till his death in 1851.  During this time he indulges in eccentricities like tying himself to the mast of a ship to experience a storm so that he could paint one.

Mr. Turner is one of the most painfully slow movies that I have seen in a long time.  In bits in pieces it reminded me of Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon which was probably slower.  Having said that, it is not boring.  It will demand all of your patience to appreciate the effort put in by director Mike Leigh with the character sketches.

There is a lot of emphasis in defining each character and of course the nuances of Mr. Turner himself.  There is the grunt that is used to express a plethora of Mr. Turner’s emotion.  Spall is fabulous with a diverse range of tones and depth of the grunt that stands out and also provides for that bit of humour during the 150 minutes.

The dialogue is very period British and sounds almost like poetry in comparison to the so called “junk” that we are used to these days.  In fact, I would not be able to do justice to the writing of Mr. Tuner with the language that I have used.  There are the odd support characters like Tuner’s wife and another artist Mr. Haydon who add value to the overall narrative.

Mr. Turner is not meant for the average ordinary everyday movie watcher.  It is being marketed under the Oscar wave but mind you it doesn’t have a mainstream Oscar nomination and more importantly it is really slow.  Watch on TV or DVD when you are in the mood for a period art drama and want to study aspects of cinema like Costume and set design.  7 on 10.

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