Mr. Turner Blu-ray review
When the artist enters his studio, draws the curtains to let in light, shifts his table just to his liking, has a quick drink, requests his tea and takes a quick gropes of his housekeeper, it is time to work.
The artist in question is J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall, who won the Best Actor prize at the 67th Cannes Film Festival), the English Romanticist who lived from 1775 to 1851 and whose works currently reside in such museums as the Tate Gallery in London, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Frick Collection in New York City. Turner is depicted not just as a master (anyone who has seen his works in person will know this already), but as a man at work. When he’s interrupted while painting his latest piece, it’s clear why he huffs and grunts and puts on a fake smile when he is introduced to his only granddaughter.
Turner lived with both his father, William (Paul Jesson, who has collaborated a number of times with writer/director Mike Leigh), and a housekeeper named Hannah Danby (Dorothy Atkinson, another Leigh favorite), who also served as a part-time lover, along with a landlady named Sophia Booth (Mario Bailey, yes, another one in Leigh’s circle). (He also wasn’t exactly against visiting brothels.)
Turner isn’t exactly someone to root for when he’s not at his easel, but then he doesn’t have to be. At the same time, this is the major aspect that hurts MR. TURNER, a biopic that focuses on the last 25 years of the artist, apparently a point in his life when he got as much pleasure out of painting as he did being a grouch to many of those around him. That the viewer has to put up with Turner for two-and-a-half hours makes for quite a chore.
The hefty runtime and grumpy spirit of the subject aside, MR. TURNER is a stunningly gorgeous-looking and -sounding film, one where all of the aspects come together to create one of the most visually and aurally arresting pictures of the year: Dick Pope’s Oscar-nominated cinematography offers a look that, at times, mirrors Turner’s works, the costumes (by Jacqueline Durran, who earned her third Oscar nod for her work) aid the Victorian style and the score (by Gary Yershon, also Oscar-nominated) creates a mood that adds to the character.
Mike Leigh (2010’s ANOTHER YEAR, 2004’s VERA DRAKE, 1999’s TOPSY-TURVY, which explored a different form of art) is clearly fascinated by both Turner’s work and life, as is evident in the way he wrote and approaches the material. But the love is not contagious, and MR. TURNER is, by the time its subject has gasped his last breath, a bloated bore.
Rightly so, Spall’s astounding, occasionally sad performance—which he researched for two years by learning how to paint and snort like Turner—has earned him praise and accolades. It’s the sort of performance that makes one want to explore his career even further.
Video: 2.39:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This is a gorgeous-looking film, so it’s no surprise that this high-definition transfer is stunning. Rich details, wonderful colors and accurate tones are present for the duration, all presenting Dick Pope’s Oscar-nominated cinematography without flaw.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. The audio transfer is also strong, as the dialogue and Gary Yershon’s score come through quite nicely.
Commentary with Mike Leigh: Leigh offers a solid track in which he discusses the production, look, cast and more of MR. TURNER.
The Cinematic Palette: The Cinematography of MR. TURNER (16:45): This featurette looks at the visual style of MR. TURNER, which earned cinematographer Dick Pope an Oscar nomination.
The Many Colours of MR. TURNER (31:50): This featurette offers a fairly thorough look at a number of aspects of the film, including how/when the project came about, the period covered, locations, costumes and much more. Included are interviews and footage from production meetings.
Billiards (1:10) is a deleted scene.