Friday, December 19, 2014

[Review] Mr. Turner

Timothy Spall, who most people might know as the ratty dude from the Harry Potter series, gives a stellar performance in this 1800s-harkening biopic about the life of British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner. Unfortunately, it's one of those films that just never gets going. And just when it feels like it should be ending soon, you check your watch and realize there's still over 90 minutes left.

Turner is grumbling, boorish, snortly and permanently scowling--he always looks like he has to take a massive crap. He obviously spends most of his time painting or sleeping, and he doesn't care about his children or grandchildren. He isn't quite Scrooge-like though, because he indulges in humor and has some friends. What follows is a monotonously structured sprawl of his life.

Between the picturesque scenery, lush colors, lighting and old-timey cinematography, it's fitting that it looks as if there's a painting within every frame of the film. Spall is great, and the period costumes and sets are on-point. However, the visual beauty and Spall's brilliant performance just aren't enough.

Mr. Turner is too slow-moving, often feeling like a stagnant stage play. It's low on major conflict and drama for the most part. Instead, it's more of a long, dry portrait. The outlines and broad strokes of the narrative aren't enough to keep this moving. To put it frankly, it's an utter bore. The film might have you exhibiting your own snorts--from snoring.


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