Courtesy of Entertainment One Films

Mr. Turner

13:09 March 06, 2015
By: Fritz Esker

**1/2 out of ****

The likability of a protagonist is always a tricky subject when evaluating films. Plenty of great movies feature loathsome characters, but if the hero (or antihero) isn’t interesting enough to justify his/her personality, then it can sink a film.

Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner is a biopic about the 19th century British painter J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall). The costumes, set decoration, and cinematography are all magnificent. But it’s a pretty package that’s hollow on the inside. Mr. Turner, like Inside Llewyn Davis, is a portrait of a talented jerk who doesn't really care much about who he steps on or mistreats in pursuit of his goal.  

But while Davis had a relatively compact running time, Mr. Turner drags on…and on, for two and a half hours. It’s a long time to be saddled with someone as vile as Turner. Aside from its aesthetic appeal, the one interesting aspect of the film is how almost all celebrated artists eventually become irrelevant. Turner’s paintings were originally viewed as innovative and exciting, but times and tastes changed, and respect turned to scorn and mockery. But it’s not enough to save the film.

Mike Leigh has made some great movies (Vera Drake, Another Year), but Mr. Turner is a misfire.

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