#MrTurner #EnglishHollywoodFilmMovieReview #JohnsonThomas #Rating: * * *1/2

#MrTurner #EnglishHollywoodFilmMovieReview #JohnsonThomas #Rating: * * *1/2

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English Film review
Johnson Thomas
An Artistic masterpiece
Film: Mr Turner
Director: Mike Leigh
Rating: * * * ½
Running Time: 150 min.
MR. TURNER explores the last quarter century of the great if eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851). Profoundly affected by the death of his father and loved by a housekeeper he takes for granted and occasionally exploits sexually, he forms a close relationship with a seaside landlady with whom he eventually lives incognito in Chelsea. Throughout this, he travels, paints, stays with the country aristocracy, visits brothels, is a popular if anarchic member of the Royal Academy of Arts, has himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he can paint a snowstorm, and is both celebrated and reviled by the public and by royalty

Mike Leigh's biography of the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner is a deeply sincere effort made with meticulous and painstaking effort minus the frills associated with generic film making. He chronicles the last 25 years of the painter’s life.  It’s slow and grim in it’s telling and has outstanding cinematography and superb performances to go with it. Mike Leigh is highly attentive to composition, atmosphere and period-accurate psychology, here. Leigh seems to have a close understanding for the repressed psychology of his characters who stay strong even when heavily beleaguered.
Mr. Turner(Timothy Spall) the Cockney painter, who imbued often outwardly unremarkable panoramas with an intensely spiritual feeling using light in a way that was never in use before. That’s a quality of his art that doesn’t show up in his personality which is more depressive, stiff and verbally unresponsive even when the conversations are directed at him. Often described as the "painter of light," Turner was part of the Romantic school of painters, who formed the basis for the distantly gestating Impressionists, that came after.
The film tries to use light and color in almost a similar manner as to that of the great painter. In fact the painter is said to open up only when the discussion is about light and it’s varied hues. He is socially handicapped and often perceived as insensitive and lacking in impulse control –yet no one calls him out on that , mesmerized as they are by his phenomenal art works.
Turner is a great listener though- he listens closely to his Scottish Polymath cousin Mary Somerville(Leslie Manville) who schools him on the magnetic properties of violet, and also to his father(Paul Jesson)who travels the world and provides his son with the art materials. Turner lost his father in 1829 which could be one of the reasons for his unsociability and distinct lack of the graces. Turner goes to a brothel and asks to draw a prostitute, then weeps inconsolably. In another scene we see him  having his way with his housekeeper who looks quite resigned to being abused in that manner. We also see Turner interacting with many of the famous landscape painters , at a gallery show, where he walks around inspecting the layout of the gallery, telling a painter friend that a woman's leg in a panorama could use a bit of highlight, and then startling everyone by painting a single daub of red in the middle of an intricately finished landscape painting—an act that another painter interprets as a declaration of war on whatever cliches the show embodies. It's  a startling touch to an otherwise regular embodiment of a painter’s clichéd life.  
The material, is presented in clinical fashion. We also see the bond between the painter and his father, William (Paul Jesson); his trips to the seaside where he stays incognito and forms a relationship with his landlady (Marion Bailey); his acerbic encounters with his first lover, Sarah; and his decline in health at the end of his life. Mainly though, it’s his painting – the process of it that gets highlighted here.  Spall reportedly spent two years practicing to be able to lend authenticity to this aspect of his performance.
 As Leigh projects him, he is indeed a man who indulges in near depravity in order to unleash his formidable talents.
Spall, plays Turner with unfathomable aplomb much like Turner’s true self was. Obtuse and oblivious, Turner was indeed a sad man. And that comes out hauntingly when pictured in the distance, moving through landscapes that he himself might have painted. Leigh’s regular cinematographer Dick Pope adds a masterly cinematic canvas to make the experience that much more fulfilling.
Turner’s work is the mainstay in this film, and not Turner himself. And Pope’s cinematography makes it a most enveloping aspect in a tone that doesn’t allow for much attachment. Leigh’s takes are languid and long. Probably much longer than most can bear but the brilliant stretched in between is so captivating that anything can be forgiven


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