A quarter of a century in the life of famed artist J.M.W. Turner.
Being an uneducated heathen, I knew next to nothing about British artist Joseph Mallord William Turner. After watching 150 minutes of his life, I’m not sure I feel much more educated.
Let’s be frank shall we? I didn’t like this much at all. While I can’t deny that Timothy Spall was definitely doing a very dedicated thing in the title role and that there was much acting in general going on, it just didn’t do anything for me.
That’s not quite right; it made me feel a bit ill. For reasons entirely unrelated to history, Spall’s Turner seems to be suffering from a variety of respiratory maladies. He spits on his paint and canvass (apparently true) and hawks and splutters and snuffles from one scene to the next. Writ large on the big screen for well over two hours, the effect is quite overpowering.
Is that enough to damn a film? Possibly not but together with the glacial pace and drawn out running time I simply couldn’t get behind it. Maybe you need to have some initial context but the only impression I got was of a fairly unpleasant man with a liking for the ladies surrounded by odds and ends of humanity. One of my biggest sources of amusement was Dorothy Atkinson’s housekeeper slowly become rank and rotten from scene to scene as her psoriasis reached ridiculous levels.
The film does look marvellous; thanks to lensing by the supremely talented Dick Pope that’s awash with sunsets and hues of blue and gold which echo Turners paintings. Expect an Oscar nomination for sure in 2015.
The critical response in general has been overwhelmingly positive for Mr. Turner so you may well far better than I did but I swear I spied a few choice naps being taken during my screening.