This slice of the later life of 19th-century artist J.M.W. Turner – when he was already famous – doesn’t offer too much in the way of plot, art history lessons or character arcs. Despite that, it’s a surprisingly watchable two-and-a-half hours from writer-director Mike Leigh.
Turner was a (very much big-R) Romantic landscape painter who, if this portrait is to be believed, never spoke when a grunt would suffice. He was largely indifferent to other people’s feelings, including the mother of his two unacknowledged daughters.
The exception was his father, who shared his house and worked as his assistant. Turner was also capable of acts of generosity and was a tireless worker, giving Timothy Spall something to work with in making his eccentricity appealing. 8/10
Released December 26, 2014.