As DeNiro was (and latterly DiCaprio is) to Scorsese, Timothy Spall is drawn to Mike Leigh. Mr. Turner is their 5th cinematic collaboration and is as exquisite a piece of art as the namesake produced. While some may balk at its seemingly weighty 150 minute running time – and it has been suggested by a friend of mine that it “drags” – I found the whole experience utterly fascinating and thoroughly absorbing.
There is a sense of realism captured through the filmmaking process and the scenes therein that sits, conflicted, against the quite elegantly composed vistas we see Turner experiencing and subsequently creating on his canvas. The “process” blurs the lines of photography and painting; both can be and are Art. Realism is snorted at by Mr. Turner in the latter stages of his life and is quite brilliantly depicted towards the end of this film. Perhaps Mr. Leigh is the perfect man to tell his tale; that sense of realism permeates all his films, lending a touch of gravitas to sometimes mundane day-to-day goings on. His ability to weigh this up against the world seen through Mr. Turner’s eyes elevates the whole experience.
Timothy Spall won the Best Actor award at this years Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal of Joseph Mallord William Turner and quite rightly so. Here’s hoping he also gets some recognition from across the pond with, at least, an Oscar and/or Emmy Award nomination. There would also be a great deal of justice in the world if similar recognition were given to Mike Leigh for this wonderful film. If not, I’m sure we can rely on BAFTA to hand something their way come next year’s awards season. I know Mr. Turner has been out for a little while in the UK, but I do urge you to seek it out. Hopefully you won’t be disappointed.
Thanks for reading 🙂