Mr. Turner (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 4, 2015 by  


“Mr. Turner” is another wonderful and intriguing film by filmmaker Mike Leigh. Featuring a wonderful performance by actor Timothy Spall, Mike Leigh was able to give insight to one of the UK’s legendary landscape painters and his life in the later years. “Mr. Turner” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © Sony Pictures Classics. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Mr. Turner


DURATION: 150 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English, French, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English, Spanish – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Some Sexual Content)

Release Date: May 5, 2015

Directed by Mike Leigh

Written by Mike Leigh

Produced by Georgina Lowe

Co-Producer: Michel Saint-Jean, Malte Grunert

Executive Producer: Gail Egan, Norman Merry

Music by Gary Yershon

Cinematography by Dick Pope

Edited by Jon Gregory

Casting by Nina Gold

Production Design by Suzie Davies

Art Direction by Dan Taylor

Set Decoration by Charlotte Watts

Costume Design by Jacqueline Durran


Timothy Spall as J.M.W. Turner

Paul Jesson as William Turner

Dorothy Atkinson as Hannah Danby

Marion Bailey as Sophia Booth

Karl Johnson as Mr. Booth

Ruth Sheen as Sarah Danby

Sandy Foster as Evelina

Amy Dawson as Georgiana

Spanning the last 25 years in the life of Britain’s most revered painter, MR. TURNER is a remarkably rich portrait of a complex, contradictory man whose relationships with his family, fellow artists and lovers were often as turbulent as the canvases he painted. Hailed as one of the best films of the year, MR. TURNER is a beautifully shot epic and stands as another masterpiece from Mike Leigh, the seven-time Oscar®-nominated director of Another Year and Topsy-Turvy.

MR. TURNER is written and directed by Mike Leigh and produced by Tessa Ross, Norman Merry, Gail Egan and Georgina Lowe. Starring Timothy Spall, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Paul Jesson and Lesley Manville.

Joseph Mallord William “J.M.W.” Turner is one of the well-known English Romanticist landscape painter, water-colourist and printmakers of his time.

Seen as a master of oil and watercolor landscape paintings, he was a man that was ahead of his time.  But he also was an eccentric man with an interesting personal life.

And that life of his older years would be the feature in the British, French and German biopic “Mr. Turner” directed by Mike Leigh (“Vera Drake”, “Happy-Go-Lucky”, “Another Year”).  Leigh wanted to explore Turner as a mortal yet flawed individual and also showcase his work.

The film would star Timothy Spall (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, “Enchanted”, “Sweenedy Todd”), Paul Jesson (“Vera Drake”, “All or Nothing”), Dorothy Atkinson (“Topsy-Turvy”, “All or Nothing”) and Marion Bailey (“Vera Drake”, “Meantime”, “Persuasion”).

Spall would win an award for “Best Actor” and cinematographer Dick Pope a special jury prize for the film’s cinematography at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

“Mr. Turner” looks at J.M.W. Turner’s last 25-years and show how the famous British painter was touted high amongst his peers.

Turner (portrayed by Timothy Spall) also had a very close relationship with his father, who worked as a studio assistant for Turner.  But when his father William (portrayed by Paul Jesson) grew sick and died, this would have a profound affect on J.M.W. and this would lead him to a life of depression.

The only person he would have any major communication was with a widow named Sarah Danby (portrayed by Dorothy Atkinson) who also worked for him as a housekeeper and a woman he had sexual relations with.

But Sarah was not the only person he would have sexual relations with, he would travel to another city and have a relationship with a woman named Sophia Caroline Booth (portrayed by Marion Bailey) and would go by a different name of Mr. Mallard and would develop a relationship with Sophia, not revealing his actual true self to her.  The two would become husband and wife, but lived a different life with Sophia, despite being a wealthy painter, would keep his personal life secret, live as a miser and live with Sophia, who would be the provider to the couple.

The film would also show how Turner would lend his critique for other artists’ paintings, but also support penniless artists who can never pay him back.


“Mr. Turner” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). The film looks fantastic in HD, while some scenes look soft, outdoor scenes are vibrant, closeups show amazing detail and skin tones look natural. I saw no banding, artifacts or any negative issues with this film.


“Mr. Turner” is presented in English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA. The film features crystal clear dialogue and music by composer Gary Yersho but for this film, the lossless soundtrack is appropriate as it is primarily front and center-channel driven.

The film would also feature an English and Spanish Audio Description 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Portuguese, Spanish and French.


“Mr. Turner” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by writer/director Mike Leigh.
  • The Cinematic Palette: The Cinematography of Mr. Turner – (16:45) A featurette about Mike Leigh and creating a film that would resemble a Turner painting.
  • The Many Colours of Mr. Turner – (31:50) A featurette in regards to the importance of creating a film in the same time period of J.M.W. Turner and the long process it took for Leigh to create the film.
  • Billiards – (1:10) Featuring an additional film not shown in the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:11) The original theatrical trailer for “Mr. Turner”.

To create a film about a a great painter, with not much personal information about the person behind two thousand paintings, no doubt posed a challenge for Director Mike Leigh.

But Leigh treated “Mr. Turner” in his later years quite interestingly.  Perhaps it’s the wonderful performance by Timothy Spall as Turner that is quite interesting.

While the self-portrait painting of J.M.W. Turner may look handsome, the film features Spall playing a portly man, often grumbling and such.  But as he still is a wonderful painter and well-revered around his circles, the loss of Turner’s father had a profound affect on him and made him depressed.

And with that longing of love or companionship, he did whatever he could to help lessen his emotional issues by having sexual relations with two women (or with prostitutes).

When the film focuses on Turner’s dedication to his art, watching him with his circle or taking trips by himself in order to value the serene landscapes, drawing sketches and focusing on the beauty before him, the film tries to show how many people questioned his artwork.  Some who felt he was losing his mind for going a different direction with his paintings but that is part of the reason while he is so revered today.  He was not a man of trend, he was a man that was dedicated to his style of artwork, done his way without any care to what people had to say.

Turner or at least Spall’s characterization of the famous painter exudes confidence when involved with work.  But it was a 180 when showing him as a man trying to fulfill his emotional need and sexual desire at a later age.

According to Turner’s biography (available online via the Turner Society), his friend remarked that “Turner never appeared the same man after his father’s death; his family was broken up.”

I found the relationship he had with Sophia Booth to be very interesting because he essentially lived a different and separate life.  In reality, not shown in the film, Booth talked about Spall post-humously in an interview that she took care of Turner financially.  He never told her of his wealth, nor shared it and that makes you wonder why this wealthy man wanted to live this very different life.  Was it because he was miser? Or was it because he wanted to be this different person than the man he truly is.

In truth, Turner was a man who had plans for his work and his finances were being saved for a gallery to house his works and the other was to created a charitable foundation known as “Turner’s Gift”.  Unfortunately, his will was contested by his relatives who took his money and in essence, unfortunately no gallery and no charitable foundation was created.

So, there is more to Turner’s life that is not featured in the film but that is what I enjoy about this film, to give one a chance to know about this famous painter and the life he experienced.

I also loved the film’s cinematography.  Dick Pope known for his work on “Happy-Go-Lucky” and “The Illusionist” did a masterful job in capturing human suffering, pain and happiness, along with the beautiful serene landscapes with efficacy.

The Blu-ray looks fantastic as outdoor colors are vibrant, skin tones are natural and costume design was also well-done.  The lossless soundtrack is appropriate as it is dialogue-driven with occasional music.  And as for special features, you get to know more about why and how Mike Leigh was able to create Turner’s final years of his life to a film.

Overall, “Mr. Turner” is another wonderful and intriguing film by filmmaker Mike Leigh.  Featuring a wonderful performance by actor Timothy Spall, Mike Leigh was able to give insight to one of the UK’s legendary landscape painters and his life in the later years.

“Mr. Turner” is recommended!


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