Director: Mike Leigh
Cast: Timothy Spall, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Paul Jesson, Lesley Manville
Country of Origin: UK 2014 149 mins
Timothy Spall Best Actor Award 2014 Cannes International Fim Festival
Released by e ONE
'Timothy Spall lives, eats and breathes Turner in a masterly performance.'
Joseph Mallord William Turner (Timothy Spall) silhouetted in a stunningly beautiful early morning Dutch canal scene frames the artist at the heart of his subject. So begins Mike Leigh's portrait of J.M.W.Turner in the last 25 years of his life when his painting was moving from representation to the vibrancy of impressionism. This is a very human Turner, individual, complicated, eccentric, restless, obsessive, totally absorbed in his work. Timothy Spall, who won the Best Actor at Cannes, gives a masterly performance that lives, eats and breaths Turner, the bumptious middle-aged man who grunts and grimaces, travels with his sketch pad and when full returns to London into the care of his much loved father William (Paul Jesson) and housekeeper Hannah (Dorothy Atkinson) and puts brush to canvas. This is the artist with little respect for his fellow Academicians, an eccentric, single-minded Turner who's rejected his children much to the bewildered frustration of his wife Sarah (Ruth Sheen) but late in life enjoyed the company of the Margate widow Sophia Booth (Marian Bailey).
Brilliantly choreographed, Dick Pope's cinematography brings it all to life and the support cast are wonderful. Dorothy Atkinson who plays Turner's housekeeper Hannah and Marian Bailey, the Margate widow are outstanding. And it's all guided by the master, Mike Leigh who's made a masterpiece. Wonderful.