Mr. Turner is a 2014 biographical drama film based on the last 25 years of the life of artist J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851). Written and directed by Mike Leigh, the film stars Timothy Spall in the title role, with Dorothy Atkinson, Paul Jesson, Marion Bailey, Lesley Manville, and Martin Savage. It premiered in competition for the Palme d'Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where Spall won the award for Best Actor and Dick Pope received a special jury prize for the film's cinematography.
Theatrical film poster
|Directed by||Mike Leigh|
|Produced by||Georgina Lowe|
|Written by||Mike Leigh|
|Music by||Gary Yershon|
|Edited by||Jon Gregory|
|Distributed by||Entertainment One Films (United Kingdom)|
Diaphana Films (France)
Prokino Filmverleih (Germany)
|Box office||$22.2 million|
Describing Turner as "a great artist: a radical, revolutionary painter", writer/director Leigh explained, "I felt there was scope for a film examining the tension between this very mortal, flawed individual, and the epic work, the spiritual way he had of distilling the world".
The film depicts the last quarter-century of the British painter J. M. W. Turner's life. Profoundly affected by the death of his father, loved by his housekeeper, Hannah Danby, whom he takes for granted and occasionally uses sexually, he forms a close and loving relationship with a seaside landlady, Mrs. Booth, with whom he eventually lives incognito in Chelsea, where he dies.
Turner travels, paints, stays with the country aristocracy, visits a brothel, is a popular if anarchic member of the Royal Academy of Arts, has himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he can paint a snowstorm, and is both celebrated and reviled by the public and by royalty.
- Timothy Spall as Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775—1851): The controversial artist; he never married but had two lovers. He fathered two children with one, though he denied paternity.
- Dorothy Atkinson as Hannah Danby (1786—1853): Turner's devoted housekeeper for 40 years, whom he exploits sexually in the film. (Leigh said that the sexual relationship was "an invention not based on any historical evidence".) She suffered from the skin disease psoriasis and died two years after Turner.
- Marion Bailey as Sophia Booth (1798—1875): Turner's landlady and lover, twice widowed, with one son by her first husband. Her second husband was a sea captain; after his death, she became involved with Turner.
- Paul Jesson as William Turner (1745—1829): Turner's father, a barber. His wife died young in a mental hospital, and their only other child died at 5. He lived with his artist son until his death, which deeply affected Turner.
- Lesley Manville as Mary Somerville (1780—1872), a scientist and friend of Turner. She gained renown at a time when women engaging seriously in scientific study was not condoned.
- Martin Savage as Benjamin Haydon (1786—1846): Turner's friend, an artist who committed suicide in 1846.
- Ruth Sheen as Sarah Danby (1760—1861): Hannah's aunt by marriage and Turner's first lover and the mother of his two unacknowledged daughters. Her husband and Hannah's uncle, a musician, had died, leaving her a young widow.
- Sandy Foster as Evalina Dupois (1801—1874): elder daughter of Turner and Sarah Danby, mother of his grandchildren.
- Amy Dawson as Georgiana Thompson (1811—1843): younger daughter of Turner and Sarah Danby, died in childbirth aged 32.
- Joshua McGuire as John Ruskin (1819—1900): art critic.
- Fenella Woolgar as Elizabeth Eastlake (1809—1893): art critic married to Charles Eastlake (Robert Portall) (1793—1865).
- James Fleet as John Constable (1776—1837): landscape painter, doyen of the Romantic movement.
- Patrick Godfrey as Lord Egremont (1751—1837): great arts patron and owner of Petworth House where Turner spent much time.
- Karina Fernandez as Miss Coggins: musician who plays Dido's Lament by Henry Purcell, to Turner's singing.
- Karl Johnson as Sea Captain Booth, second husband of Sophia Booth, later Turner's lover.
- Kate O'Flynn as Eliza: a young prostitute sketched by Turner.
- Elizabeth Berrington and Eileen Davies as art critics.
- Tom Wlaschiha as Prince Albert.
- Sinead Matthews as Queen Victoria: the young queen who sneers at Turner's later work.
- Richard Bremmer as George Jones (1786—1869): English artist famous for his battle scenes.
- David Horovitch as Dr Price: Turner's doctor for many years.
- Peter Wight as Joseph Gillott (1799—1873): wealthy arts patron.
- Jamie Thomas King as David Roberts (1796—1864): Scottish Orientalist painter.
- Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Henry William Pickersgill (1782—1875): English portraitist.
- Simon Chandler as Augustus Wall Callcott (1779—1844): English landscape artist.
- Mark Stanley as Clarkson Frederick Stanfield (1793—1867): English marine painter.
- Leo Bill as J. E. Mayall (1813—1901): pioneering photographer.
- Clive Francis as Martin Archer Shee (1769—1850): English portrait painter.
- Edward de Souza as Thomas Stothard (1755—1834): English painter and engraver.
Mr. Turner was filmed in several locations around the UK. Margate was not used to represent Turner's Margate, but the production visited Kent to shoot a couple of scenes. HMS Gannet in the Historic Dockyard Chatham was used in the scene where Turner has himself strapped to the mast of a sailing ship during a storm. Stangate Creek doubled as the Thames when Turner and his friends are rowed along the Thames and discuss HMS Victory, then toast HMS Temeraire.
Mr. Turner had its premiere at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d'Or, with Spall winning Best Actor and Dick Pope winning the Vulcan Award. Entertainment One released the film in the United Kingdom on 31 December 2014. Sony Pictures Classics handled the United States distribution, with a release date of 19 December 2014. It was screened in the Special Presentations section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
The film was leaked by the hacker group "Guardians of Peace" onto peer-to-peer file sharing websites on 27 November 2014, more than three weeks ahead of its intended U.S. theatrical release, as part of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack. Along with it came Fury and three other then unreleased Sony Pictures films (Annie, Still Alice and To Write Love on Her Arms). Within three days of the initial leak, an estimated 63,379 unique IPs had downloaded Mr. Turner.
Mr. Turner received wide praise from critics. Spall's performance was lauded, along with Yershon's score and Pope's cinematography. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a "Certified Fresh" rating of 97%, based on 191 reviews, with an average score of 8.46/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Led by a masterful performance from Timothy Spall and brilliantly directed by Mike Leigh, Mr. Turner is a superior Hollywood biopic." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 94 out of 100 based on 44 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Critic Katie Kilkenny of The Atlantic called it "a gorgeous, important film". Observer critic Mark Kermode described the film as a "portrait of a man wrestling light with his hands as if it were a physical element: tangible, malleable, corporeal". Slate reviewer Dana Stevens wrote, "Writing about Mr. Turner a few weeks after seeing it, I feel a craving to be again immersed in its world, which is rich with colors, textures, and, it sometimes almost seems, smells".
The consonance between the film and its subject was addressed by Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate Galleries in England: “Mike Leigh and Timothy Spall’s great achievement is showing us how the artist approached the physical business of painting. But they also convey the spirit of a man whose reputation as a curmudgeon is unwarranted, given his passionate interest in people and the world around him. There is a great humanitarian streak in Turner and Mike Leigh has found a way of capturing this on film, as he has done so often before.”
Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gave the film three and a half out of four stars, writing that like Leigh's 1999 film Topsy-Turvy, about the creation of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera The Mikado, "[Mr. Turner] understands creative people on every conceivable level, and translates that understanding with a deftness rarely seen outside of astute documentaries about creative people. To watch it is to feel as though you're a part of its world... experiencing tiny fluctuations in received wisdom and sudden changes of artistic direction that can only be sensed by professionals who are plugged into their art form, and completely in command of their talents."
|List of awards and nominations|
|Award / Film Festival||Category||Recipient(s)||Result|
|87th Academy Awards||Best Cinematography||Dick Pope||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Jacqueline Durran||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Gary Yershon||Nominated|
|Best Production Design||Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts||Nominated|
|ASC Award||Theatrical Motion Picture||Dick Pope||Nominated|
|23rd Britannia Awards||Excellence in Directing||Mike Leigh||Won|
|68th British Academy Film Awards||Best Cinematography||Dick Pope||Nominated|
|Best Production Design||Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Jacqueline Durran||Nominated|
|Best Makeup & Hair||Christine Blundell, Lesa Warrener||Nominated|
|17th British Independent Film Awards||Best British Independent Film||Mr. Turner||Nominated|
|Best Director||Mike Leigh||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Timothy Spall||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Dorothy Atkinson||Nominated|
|Best Technical Achievement||Dick Pope||Nominated|
|67th Cannes Film Festival||Best Actor||Timothy Spall||Won|
|Vulcan Award||Dick Pope||Won|
|Palme d'Or||Mike Leigh||Nominated|
|34th Hawaii International Film Festival||EuroCinema Hawai'i Award for Best Film||Mr. Turner||Won|
|London Film Critics' Circle||Film of the Year||Mr. Turner||Nominated|
|British Film of the Year||Mr. Turner||Nominated|
|Actor of the Year||Timothy Spall||Nominated|
|Supporting Actress of the Year||Marion Bailey||Nominated|
|British Actor of the Year||Timothy Spall||Won|
|Director of the Year||Mike Leigh||Nominated|
|Technical Achievement Award||Dick Pope||Nominated|
|86th National Board of Review Awards||Top 10 Independent Films||Mr. Turner||Won|
|49th National Society of Film Critics Awards||Best Actor||Timothy Spall||Won|
|80th New York Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Actor||Timothy Spall||Won|
- "Mr. Turner".
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- "MR. TURNER (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 24 July 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
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- Walsh, David (18 September 2012). "Toronto International Film Festival 2014—Part 1: Something different in filmmaking". ICFI. World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
- CineVue. "Cannes 2014: 'Mr. Turner' preview". CineVue - Award-winning UK film site.
- Ben Child (23 October 2012). "Timothy Spall to play JMW Turner in Mike Leigh biopic". The Guardian. London.
- Short documentary film: The Many Colours of Mr. Turner. Narrated by: Mike Leigh. Producer: Special Treats Productions.
- Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Mr Turner Article".
- "Cannes Film Festival: Official Selection Lineup Announced - Variety". Variety. 17 April 2014.
- "Toronto Film Festival Lineup". Variety. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
- "Sony's New Movies Leak Online Following Hack Attack". Variety. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- "Mr. Turner (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
- "Mr. Turner Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
- Kilkenny, Katie (24 December 2014). "Mr. Turner Turns a Man Into a Myth, Beautifully". The Atlantic. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- Kermode, Mark (2 November 2014). "Mr Turner review – Mike Leigh shines a brilliant new light on the great master". The Observer. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- Stevens, Dana (18 December 2014). "Mr. Turner". Slate. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- Serota is quoted in Gilbey, Ryan (16 January 2015). "The Baftas vs Mike Leigh: why is our greatest auteur continually snubbed?". The Guardian.
- Seitz, Matt Zoller Seitz (19 December 2014). "Mr. Turner Movie Review & Film Summary". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
- "2015 Oscars Nominees 87th Academy Awards Nominations". oscar.go.com. 15 January 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
- "ASC Awards Nominees: 'Birdman', 'Unbroken', 'Mr Turner' On Cinematographers List". Deadline Hollywood. 7 January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- "The Jaguar Britannia Awards 2014". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- "BAFTA Nominations: 'Grand Budapest Hotel' Leads With 11 – Full List". Deadline Hollywood. 8 January 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
- "British Independent Film Awards Nominations 2014!". British Independent Film Awards. 7 November 2014. Archived from the original on 19 February 2015. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- "Cannes:"Winter Sleep" Takes The Palme D'Or; Festival Award Winners Announced". Penske Business Media, LLC. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- "Hawaii International Film Festival". IMDb.com. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
- "Mr. Turner leads London Critics nominations". 16 December 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
- "2014 Award Winners". NationalBoardOfReview.org. 2 December 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
- "2014 Awards". nationalsocietyoffilmcritics.com. 3 January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- "2014 Awards". NYFCC.com. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2014.