Director Mike Leigh shows the last 25yers of J.M.W Turners life. He was a famous painter of Maritime and landscapes scenes and was one of the early practitioners of what would later be called impressionism – at the time nobody really new what it was. The movie doesn’t really cover this well at all even with it being 2.5hrs long. He was known as man of great vision.
In the movie there is a lot of grunting but he somehow manages to say a lot with those grunts. He is very gruff, very randy, very raunchy but there is also a lot of vulnerability there, even some sweetness beneath all the dismissiveness and obnoxiousness. We get to see the partnership early on between him and his father – his father is very much his champion, his father helps him. There is no sense of how lost he is until he finds Marion Bailey. We get a little insight into this when his father dies and he goes to see the prostitute and breaks down.
Mike Leigh has a way of giving more of an insight into these on the surface repellent characters , what he’s about, what his art is about and how dedicated he was to it. There are moments when he opens up and shows a bit more of himself in his romance with this landlady Marion Bailey.
It’s an interesting story and has interesting characters, Timothy Spall puts in a good performance but it’s an hour too long.