Those of us who have watched Secrets and Lies and Happy go Lucky may be wondering how did Lee get along with Mr. Turner?
– Although it’s a long step, it’s not the first time Mike Leigh has made a fashion film in Topsy Turvy, having portrayed the composer duo Gilbert and Sullivan for example. Because Lee is a skilled director and masters his own means of expression, I think he does a great job overall. And he seems to really want to make a movie about William Turner, this is Mike Leigh’s movie, and he hasn’t got any order in his lap, regardless of how it actually turns out. Mr. Turner is about the last 25 years of William Turner’s life and really has a lot of drama in it, it follows Turner from the inside and doesn’t focus too much on the potential drama that was there.
But if you look at Turner as an artist, many have certainly been influenced by his light paintings, both in terms of the way he depicts light but also how he makes subjects shine, how he paints fog and moods, has Mike Leigh been able to transfer this to a screen?
– I don’t really think so, and in this film, as in many other films, it’s a bit difficult to see an actor playing a genius, regardless of whether it’s someone playing Paganini and pretending to play the violin or whether it’s Timothy Spall scrambling and attacking The screen is like…if it was William Turner, it worked that way. William Turner is probably the most famous artist in 19th-century Britain, just as Carl Larsson was in Sweden, although Turner was earlier and painted in a very different style. But I don’t think Mike Leigh managed to get much further in his image than the often seen form of male genius and his various tribulations.
So how does Timothy Spall play the main role?
-Very good and very grunting, as if he had studied Turner’s speech in a pigsty. There is snoring and strumming in a way that makes me think this was the chatter of London society in the early decades of the 19th century, Mr. Turner playing. But this is a great film, in that you still don’t get anything extra, and it becomes a kind of what you call a biopic, i.e. a biopic that still shows “only” Turner’s life, and I won’t go any deeper than Turner’s Private Paintings.
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