This is Mike Leigh‘s (Secrets & Lies) vision of one of the greatest Britons ever, it plays out the last twenty five years of the great painters life.
With 2014 Oscar and BAFTA nominations, we are treated to the engrossing, turbulent and curmudgeonly life and loves of Mr Turner (Timothy Spall, The King’s Speech).
J.M.W. Turner (Spall) lives in London in a sizeable house along with his beloved father William Turner (Paul Jesson, Vera Drake) who also dotes on his son. Now that he is retired from barbering he spends his time making all his canvasses, collecting all the powders for the paint and grinding them down to make the paints, whilst the housekeeper Hanna (Dorothy Atkinson, Housewife, 49) looks after the house and Mr J.M.W. Turners basal instincts when he returns home from his many trips away, whether it be at home or abroad.
J.M.W. was obsessed with lighting effects in his large canvasses and he spends many hours sketching the hills and lakes and the coast. He travels by steamer down to Margate where he takes lodgings with a Mrs Booth (Marion Bailey, Vera Drake). Her husband (Karl Johnson, Hot Fuzz) tells harrowing tales of being a ships carpenter travelling the world to Africa and transporting slaves back to England.
When he is at home, he is hounded by a an ex and his two daughters. He treats them coldly and does not acknowledge that they exist even when one of them passes away while he was in Margate with Mrs Booth, whose husband has now passed away and who now has the affections of Mr Turner.
Whilst all this is going on he is a well liked and respected member of RAA, where his paintings are displayed alongside those of other greats such as Constable, who is a rival for sales as others are trying to borrow money and hoping to get into the RAA.
His fame affords him to mix with Lords and Ladies and others offer him a fortune for all his works that have gone unsold (of which there were many).
Leigh takes as much care of the look of this film as the brilliant acting of Spall and the supporting cast, he brings us a riveting view of the late life of this great man and his eye for perfection.