Friday, 14 November 2014

Mr Turner (2014)

The latest Mike Leigh film, and one I was looking forward to as I thought quite highly of his last film (the excellent 'Another Year' - which was in my Top 5 of 2010).

Leigh's subject for this biopic is the 19th Century painter J.M.W Turner (played by Timothy Spall) and the later stages of his career/life. By this point he is already an established name, and the film follows him as he goes about his work and life, with his later works seemingly being less popular with/accepted by the public as well as his own degradation towards the end of his life.

The film is quite long, running at 150 minutes. Which, in my opinion, feels a little longer than the film can handle. Most of the time the film finds something to do, but there were the occasions where it couldn't do enough to stop me watch-checking. Which got me to realise that it was one of those films I could appreciate what it was but couldn't quite get into as much as I would have liked to (and, hence, was a little disappointing).

It's a nicely put together film, and one that conceals any budget limitations. Timothy Spall carries the film well with his grunting turn, and is surrounded by some nice framing that makes moments in the film look enough like a painting. It's decently written and the scenes are handled in a well-staged manner (though there were, I felt, some very brief blips where the film marginally tips in an unnecessary way) to create an interesting look at the artist. Yet, for some reason, it wasn't quite enough for me to engage fully with the film and I can only assume that is due to 1) the high expectations I had coming in and 2) the long running time being a little more than the film could fill and caused some seating discomfort for myself (the remnants of the sore knees that plagued me during 'Charlie Countryman' were in play again).

Though the film may not have met my expectations, I still wouldn't say I was let down. It's a solid piece of work that kept me occupied for most of the time. There is much to appreciate and I can understand why it has been well received. I just wish I could have got into it that little bit more.

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