Mr. Turner UK 2014 – 149min.

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Mr. Turner

Movie Rating: Geoffrey Crété

England, early 19th century. J.M.W. Turner is a renowned artist and an appreciated member of the prestigious Royal Academy of Arts. Together with his devoted governess and his aged father, who actively helps him despite his age, the painter, obsessed by light and the elements, lives a solitary life, punctuated by stormy relationships with women, much travel and a fame he tries to control as best he can.

More known for his contemporary stories about ordinary heroes, Mike Leigh returns to the form of his costume drama Topsy-Turvy to take on the perilous exercise of the classic biopic: that of J.M.W. Turner, the English painter considered a master of light. One has to admit that the director, who won the Golden Palm for Secrets and Lies in 1996, has not put his best work into this film. Lethargic and seemingly endless, Mr Turner lacks sparkle, intensity and life. A few scenes depicting Turner’s paintings are magnificently photographed, but the rest is a long and laborious portrait of an obscure man that is far too distanced. Acknowledged by the Best Actor award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, the mannered performance by Timothy Spall (a regular in Leigh’s projects) is perfectly in tune with the movie: at first captivating, then very quickly redundant.

10.11.2020

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