The English writer-director Mike Leigh is one of the most humane filmmakers. His movies are less seen than they should be, and it’s an occasion of genuine joy that he has a new one. Mr. Turner, the biographical portrait of the great English artist, is something very rare – I think it might be a perfect film.
I emerged from my first viewing, heart full, mind stimulated, feeling as if I had just been in mid-19th century England. I had seen a work of uncommon beauty, not showy or pretentious (indeed one of the themes of the film is the pretentiousness of the art world among proponents, purchasers, and painters alike). I had been met by one of the great cinematic performances, in Timothy Spall’s full-bodied immersion as a man touched by transcendent genius on the canvas, tenderness with some people, and inexplicable callousness toward others. This is a real life, fully rounded, and induces both the laughter and tears of recognition that each of us gets to choose what to do with our gifts, but will face the temptation to be selfish in their manifestation. Read more here.