Leigh embraces the contradictions in Turner. And in tandem with cinematographer Dick Pope, a master of light, he shows us the world as Turner sees it. The effect is harsh and ravishing. Leigh's beauty of a movie touches the heart not by sentimental gush but by the amplitude of its art. show more
When we peruse this movie, we see a superb evocation of Turner’s latter years, during the first half of the 19th century, and a performance that’s symphonic in the sweep of its eccentricities, vivid in the spectrum of its passions. show more
Spall is best known for his supporting performances (Winston Churchill in “The King’s Speech,” Peter Pettigrew in the “Harry Potter” films). But he’s among the highest class of character actor, able to make a role of any size his own. Leigh has given Spall the gift of a lifetime in J.M.W. Turner. show more
January 03, 2015 DRE
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A wonderfully crafted film about someone whose art you can admire, but you wouldn't care to know personally. There's nothing that the man himself would have to tell you other than by means of his art. Almost everything else is telling: the period recreation, cinematography, the surrounding characters. I can't imagine why the depiction of a growling, emotionally shut, and totally unappealing character could deserve so much praise. Fifteen minutes into the film we already know who he is, and the remaining 135 we just have to bear him (pun unintended). The exploration of the social and cultural context of Victorian England effectively makes you appreciate how nice it is not to live then and there, but its subtlety borders on superficiality. To a friend, it felt like a Masterpiece Theatre segment, but it is a very sad movie, and often also very boring.