DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Mike Leigh
Timothy Spall, Dorothy Atkinson, Paul Jesson, Marion Bailey, Lesley Manville, Martin Savage
Writing Credits:
Mike Leigh

An exploration of the last quarter century of the great, if eccentric, British painter J.M.W. Turner's life.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 150 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 5/5/2015

• Audio Commentary with Director Mike Leigh
• “The Cinematic Palette: The Cinematography of Mr. Turner” Featurette
• “The Many Colors of Mr. Turner” Featurette
• Deleted Scene
• Trailer
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Mr. Turner [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 20, 2015)

Best-known for supporting roles in films like the Harry Potter series and Enchanted, Timothy Spall takes on a lead via 2014’s Mr. Turner. Set in 19th Century England, the film follows artist JMW Turner (Spall) as an older man.

As the tale starts, Turner devotes much of his time to his work, with occasional dalliances with Hannah Danby (Dorothy Atkinson), his devoted housekeeper who he uses sexually. Outside of his father William (Paul Jesson), Turner tends to ignore other aspects of his life, and that includes his illegitimate adult daughters.

After his father dies, though, Turner finds himself altered in some ways. He becomes more emotional and changes his style of art in ways that baffle many. Turner also establishes a relationship with Sophia Booth (Marion Bailey), the widowed proprietor of a seaside inn who knows him only as “Mr. Mallard”. We trace these threads across the decades until Turner’s death.

When I go into a movie like Mr. Turner, I certainly don’t expect a lot of fireworks, whether literal or figurative. Sure, we need some form of drama or intrigue to keep us interested, but I don’t demand constant theatrics. Give me a good, insightful character study about interesting personalities and I’ll leave satisfied.

Does Turner provide such an experience? Yes, though it does so in a somewhat non-traditional sense. At times, Turner comes across as a movie about manners. We get many scenes that depict social interactions with only minor dollops of development and information along the way.

Eventually those small portions add up to something more substantial, though. With a very deliberate pace and careful, crafted photography, Turner doesn’t exactly provide a thrill a minute, but it creates a satisfying portrait in the end.

This does require serious patience from the viewer, and I can’t blame anyone who might become frustrated along the way. Characters and story elements come and go without a lot of clear logic, and the absence of much overt drama can mean potential tedium.

Happily, the film stays interesting enough that it never does become sluggish or dull. Turner creates a careful but intricate look at its subject, and Spall brings us a fine performance as the lead. At times it may feel like he does little more than grunt, but Spall offers layers that come through and allows for real character development along the way.

Director Mike Leigh creates an engaging view of Turner’s universe as well. He gives the movie a look that evokes paintings but doesn’t do so in a self-conscious manner. While we feel the sense of art throughout the movie, we don’t get beaten over the head with that conceit.

All of this adds up to a compelling piece of work. Mr. Turner might move at a gradual pace but it uses its time wisely and delivers an insightful, evocative period effort.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Mr. Turner appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a satisfying presentation.

Sharpness tended to be positive. A few shots showed a smidgen of softness, usually during interiors, where a lack of light led to a mild lack of definition. Overall, though, detail seemed good. I noticed no signs of jaggies or edge enhancement, and shimmering was absent. The film lacked print flaws and seemed clean.

Many period pieces opt for subdued palettes, and that was true here. The colors tended toward amber tones, though we saw other tones like yellows, greens and blues. These appeared fine within the film’s stylistic choices. Blacks seemed dark and tight, and shadows demonstrated good clarity. I found this to be worth a “B+”.

A character drama wouldn’t seem to be a candidate for a dynamic soundtrack, and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Turner fell into expected realms. We got some directional speech, and a few scenes – on the sea, in the streets, etc. – used the various channels well. Those instances remained the exception to the rule, though, so expect a subdued mix the vast majority of the time.

Audio quality satisfied. Although didn’t get much score, the music was full and rich, while effects showed nice clarity and accuracy. Speech – obviously an important factor here – appeared concise and crisp. Nothing here soared, but it all seemed positive for the material at hand.

As we shift to extras, we launch with an audio commentary from director Mike Leigh. He provides a running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, facts/history and liberties taken, cinematography and visual design, costumes and period details, sets and locations, music, editing and related topics.

With nary a lull along the way, Leigh provides a fine commentary. He discusses a nice array of subjects and does so in a lively, charming manner. He makes sure that we learn a lot about the movie and its subject in this informative piece.

Two featurettes follow. The Cinematic Palette: The Cinematography of Mr. Turner goes for 16 minutes, 45 seconds and includes notes from Leigh, director of photography Dick Pope, costume designer Jacqueline Durran, production designer Suzie Davies and actor Timothy Spall. They discuss visual aspects of the project such as photography, costumes and production design. We also get some thoughts about Leigh’s style on the set. “Palette” turns into an informative and enjoyable program.

The Many Colors of Mr. Turner runs 31 minutes, 50 seconds and offers comments from Leigh, Pope, Spall, Davies, producer Georgina Lowe, consultant art historian Jacqueline Riding, painting tutor Tim Wright, painter Charlie Cobb, art department assistant Jane Brodie and actors Paul Jesson, Marion Bailey, Dorothy Atkinson, Clive Francis, Fred Pearson, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Tom Edden, Jamie Thomas King, Mark Stanley, and Martin Savage. We get thoughts about Turner and his work, other characters, cast and performances, sets and design areas, historical elements, and additional production components. “Colors” complements “Palette” and delivers another satisfying view of the subject matter.

Called “Billiards”, a Deleted Scene lasts one minute, 10 seconds. It shows Turner as he sketches and interacts with art patrons. It seems fairly forgettable.

The disc opens with ads for Whiplash, Still Alice, Wild Tales, The Salt of the Earth, Saint Laurent and Leviathan. We also find the trailer for Mr. Turner.

With slow, deliberate pacing and a lack of much overt drama, Mr. Turner will likely leave many cold. However, I think it offers a fairly involving character piece that approaches the material from an unusual but satisfying angle. The Blu-ray boasts very good picture, acceptable audio and a few informative bonus materials. Turner ends up as a winning period biography.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
1 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main