Mr. Turner

Posted on February 20, 2015


Mr. Turner – In a time of top hats and horse-drawn carriages, JMW Turner (Timothy Spall) paints exquisite seascapes and lives somewhat of a double life. He paws at his housekeeper (Dorothy Atkinson). She doesn’t seem to mind but would like a little more affection with it. He denies two daughters by his first mistress (Ruth Sheen) and seems unmoved when told about the death of one of them. Yet he feels compassion for and forgives a debt from a friend (Martin Savage) who has some misfortune.
Turner is complicated, somewhat grouchy, and grunts more than he talks. When around his Royal Academy of Art colleagues, he sometimes seems playful and light. Most people and critics loved his art; at least one, however, called it “vile” and a “dirty yellow mess.” He begins visiting Chelsea by the sea and starts a lasting relationship with his landlady, Mrs. Booth (Marion Bailey). At first he tells her his name is Mr. Mallard and later the neighbors know him as Mr. Booth.
It’s a long movie – one of the things that could have been eliminated was a tedious discussion of the gooseberry. I thought the most interesting part was his conversation and experiment with Mary Somerville (Lesley Manville), a scientist, on color and light. And watching the housekeeper watch everything is very fun. The settings, the furniture, the costumes for both men and women, and the countryside are just wonderful. It’s a pity they don’t have subtitles for the English accents.