Freeview film of the day: Mr Turner

Timothy Spall paints up a storm

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Mr Turner ★★★★★ 
PREMIERE 9.00-11.55pm Film4

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The crying shame of the 2015 awards season was that neither Bafta nor Oscar thought fit to nominate the film, Mike Leigh or Timothy Spall. Cinematographer Dick Pope, who made scene after scene look like paintings by the eponymous JMW Turner, was recognised, yet this could be the best film that Leigh has ever made. It has been argued that it’s overlong and doesn’t explain Turner’s coldness towards his first wife, but that’s to criticise it for not being what it didn’t set out to be in the first place. It’s not about the artist’s first marriage but about his last 25 years when he divides his time between London and Margate – a story that’s lacking in drama perhaps, but that’s often funny and always absorbing. The main reason for this is Spall, giving the performance of his life – his Turner is a man of few words who communicates mainly through the most meaningful grunts and growls ever to emanate from a cinema screen. I hope Bafta and Oscar are ashamed of themselves.  


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