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Mr. Turner 12 rating

Mike Leigh’s Cannes-winning account of the later years of J. M. W. Turner, brilliantly played by Timothy Spall.

Biopic 2014 150 mins

Director: Mike Leigh


Mike Leigh’s exultant cinematic portrait of the artist Joseph Mallord William Turner is both a luminous tribute to the master of light and a fascinating study of a man who attained greatness while resisting convention.

Eschewing the traditional form of the biopic, Leigh focuses on Turner as a bumptious middle-aged man and traces the last 25 years of his life when his painting was transitioning from representation to the more atmospheric, impressionist work for which he is renowned. Timothy Spall, who won best actor at Cannes Film Festival, is outstanding as the fierce titular subject whose brutish interiority is seemingly at odds with the romanticism of his work. Regular Leigh collaborator Dick Pope’s glorious widescreen cinematography pays full tribute to an artist whose paintings evoked the moving image before there was cinema. Mr Turner was made with the support of the BFI using funds from the National Lottery.