One of the nice things about living in London is that even when you've pretty much missed a film there is still a chance of seeing it (as a price). Mike Leigh's Mr Turner came out at the end of October. I was aware of it and eager to see it from the time of its nomination and victory in Cannes back in May but just had not been able. Anyway, I had to be in town yesterday and discovered it was still on in Covent Garden and so I went.
I must be honest I was rather disappointed. The film is well acted, beautifully filmed and does give an idea of Turner's life. Timothy Spall is very good as a sort of 19th century Russell Brand figure minus the charisma. However, it deals only with the last 25 years of his 76 years with mere nods to what went on before and is rather impressionistic. It also comes over rather sordidly and I'm not sure on what evidence. Now I know that to complain of its impressionism is ironic given that it is this sort of approach that Turner so often takes in his paintings. However, I would have preferred a film with a definite storyline and some obvious drama and character development. I think may be the problem was that the film assumed you already knew the story, which I must confess I don't. That Peter Ackroyd biography has been sat on my shelf for some time now unread.
His housekeeper Hannah Danby is shown to be suffering from psoriasis but what that has to do with Turner is not clear. In my ignorance I was not entirely clear which John Ruskin was which.
Another problem with the film is presenting the paintings, especially when they want to show Turner in action. That failed miserably for me.
So okay but not quite the amazing film everyone seemed to be saying it was.