Mr Turner @ The Ross

Mr. Turner (Timothy Spall)

Mr. Turner (Timothy Spall)

I highly recommend that you refrain from watching Mike Leigh’s biopic Mr. Turner if you have had a pleasant day; just close it out with a mug of hot chocolate and a snuggle into your grandmother’s afghan or Aunt Gertrude’s quilt. Contemplate the sunset or the close of the horizon as dusk makes its way to welcome the night. Or, if your fuddy-duddy tendencies have reared their ugly heads and a rainbow and a smiley face are the last things you need, then Leigh’s Mr. Turner is just the film for you—all one hundred and fifty minutes of it!

Mr. Turner and Mrs. Booth (Marion Bailey) enjoy a moment of levity.

Mr. Turner and Mrs. Booth (Marion Bailey) enjoy a moment of levity.

The movie stars Timothy Spall as Mr. Turner, the eccentric British painter—-you know, I’m going to stop right here: eccentric is NOT the description. Spall’s Mr. Turner is a mere aged warthog of a man who grunts and squints as he points a paint brush to a canvas and manages to create a bunch of beige brown sage grey and blue paintings of seascapes and ships at sea that critics deem as art. There. Set in the last twenty five years of his life when he is a celebrated artist in the 1800s, Mr. Turner’s community of artists is equally vacuous, consisting of men–excuse me–artists whose conversations would make a heathen pray for redemption!

Yes. Mike Leigh creates a world without warmth and fuzz, and Mr. Turner along with his cursed housekeeper Hannah Danby played by Dorothy Atkinson and his landlady/lover Mrs. Sophie Booth (played with appeal by Marion Bailey) all move within the dank and cold corridors with ease and comfort.

The Community of Artists

The Community of Artists

Mrs. Booth takes in Mr. Turner as a boarder in her upper room when he visits the seaside town of Margate to get away from London. Later she becomes his companion. Hannah, whom Mr. Turner calls ‘Damsel’, is enamored with her employer who sees her as he would a chair—without notice unless he needs to sit in it; and he sit he does when he desires to sexually exploit her. Both women carry with them a loyalty for Mr. Turner even until death.

fr left Sarah Danby (Ruthy Sheen), William Turner (Paul Jesson), Hannah "Damsal" Danby, (Dorothy Atkinson) , Georgiana (Amy Dawson), and Sarah Foster as Evelina

fr left Sarah Danby (Ruthy Sheen), William Turner (Paul Jesson), Hannah “Damsel” Danby, (Dorothy Atkinson) , Georgiana (Amy Dawson), and Sarah Foster as Evelina

All is not lost, however. Only his estranged mistress Sarah Danby, played exceptionally by Ruth Sheen, stands in for the audience’s own yearnings. She pleads for some demonstration of emotion and sentiment from the painter, especially since she has born him two daughters, Georgiana (Amy Dawson) and Evelina (Sarah Foster). The linguistic exchanges are a welcomed respite. Dick Pope’s cinematography is a feast for the eyes what with sweeping long shots of the sea and its ships; and, Paul Jesson’s performance as Mr. Turner’s father, William, is superb.

William Turner (Paul Jesson)

William Turner (Paul Jesson)

Mr Turner plays through March 5 at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

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