Without a doubt one of the deeper views of 2014, Mr. Turner is a biopic in its truest form. The immersion factor of Mr. Turner is just about the best I’ve seen from a movie all year. I must commend the filmmakers for going into such detail on every scene and every setting to truly make you feel like you are observing a 19th century Britain. While it may not be nominated for anything because of its lesser-known status, Mr. Turner is without a doubt the best set design I’ve scene from a movie in 2014 thus far. However, this immersion factor did hurt the film at times sadly. The British/Scottish accents were very heavy, and thus often times my “uncultured” ears could not hear and understand what was being said. But, as far as 2014 biopics go, there is little denying that this is the best of the year.
As for acting, a biopic is only as good as its lead. Fortunately, to say Timothy Spall delivered a fantastic performance would be something of an understatement. He was phenomenal as J.M.W. Turner. The once Harry Potter villain actor was completely unrecognizable to the point that, despite knowing he was from Harry Potter I even began to question myself. The rest of the cast of UK stars are also superb, as the entire 150 minute movie felt like a play with insane production value. No screen hogging. No overacting. Just…. everyone doing their part to ensure the best possible experience for the viewer.
I also loved the story. In an era where movies do so much handholding to the viewer, it is fantastic to see a movie just show you the events on screen and expect you to interpret them yourself. While personally I welcomed this, it, combined with the heavy accents, did make this movie a very dense watch. I actually had to take a break at one point in order to get through it, so I do not recommend watching it in a social gathering, however if you are interested in art and enjoy landscape paintings, you absolutely must see this movie. One other thing to mention is that the direction of filmmaker Mike Leigh was incredible. His use of wideshots in a room really made me feel like I was watching a play. It also made me feel very small compared to Mr. Turner, which I believe is exactly what Leigh was going for.
My only major gripe against the film is that I never really truly cared about Turner. While I do not believe Leigh was intending for you to do so and that the movie is more an investigation into the last 25 years of Turner’s life, the lack of emotion really downplays the replayability aspect of the movie. Additionally, because of the thick accents, there were several things I missed, and as a result what were supposed to be the emotional moments were not emotional to me because I didn’t fully understand them. While this is entirely my fault as the viewer, it still keeps Mr. Turner from earning a perfect score from me.
So there you have it. While it is a dense film, Mr. Turner is the gold standard for a biopic. A movie with incredible set design, fantastic direction, and a marvelous performance from Timothy Spall makes Mr. Turner one of the best films of the year. If you consider yourself a fan of art it’s a must-see.
The Critique: Mr. Turner sets a new standard in the biopic genre. One of the best films of the year.
The Recommendation: any and every aspiring artist should watch this movie because of the fantastic job it does showing the inspiration behind Turner’s paintings. Any and every art fan in general should see this. Even non-art fans will enjoy this, I know art and myself do not get along and I still liked it!
The Verdict: 9.5/10 Damn Near Perfect