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Mike Leigh's beautifully drawn portrait of the British artist JMW Turner focuses largely on the later years of the painter's life, when he was already a fêted name with eccentric habits and a complicated private life. Deliberately fragmentary and sketchy, it's not the sort of tidy biopic that Hollywood churns out in batches, but that somehow makes it even truer to the spirit of the Romantic period when it takes place. Timothy Spall delivers a majestic performance, arguably his best in a rich career, capturing both Turner's quicksilver intelligence and energy but also his coarse manners - a lot of his dialogue consists of expressive grunts and growls, like a pig suffering a bad bout of dyspepsia. Although Leigh's deft handling of actors and humour is palpable throughout, there's none of the satirical sneering that sometimes mars his work. Some might even consider it his best film to date, and in some ways, despite its grounding in biography and history, his most personal.
Premiere. Mike Leigh's biopic of the artist, following the last 25 years of his life. He faces losses in his personal life and declining health, but also embraces innovative new approaches to painting that provoke controversy in the arts establishment but lead to the creation of several masterpieces. Starring Timothy Spall and Paul Jesson.
Cast & Crew
Karl Johnson (2)
Benjamin Robert Haydon
Henry William Pickersgill
Sir Charles Eastlake
Sir Martin Archer Shee
Sir Augustus Wall Callcott
DVD and Blu-ray
31 Oct 2014
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