Metascore
94

Universal acclaim - based on 43 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 42 out of 43
  2. Negative: 0 out of 43
  1. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Feb 2, 2015
    100
    Mr. Turner is no barrel of laughs. It's a barrel of life - an extraordinary one.
  2. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jan 8, 2015
    100
    A life is not plot; plot is not life. By scrupulously sticking not just to the accuracies of Turner’s life as we know them but to the tiniest of details, the chipped mugs on kitchen tables, the pantaloons on a passing merchant, the spray of storm surf across the bow of a ship, Leigh wants us to truly see the world Turner moved through. Only by seeing that world can we see how he saw and painted it.
  3. Reviewed by: Keith Staskiewicz
    Jan 3, 2015
    100
    J.M.W. Turner was a master of light and image, but what stands out most about him in Mike Leigh's captivating biographical film is a sound. Playing the renowned Victorian-era English painter, Timothy Spall grunts and expectorates his way through his scenes, chugging along with the phlegmy belch of an old jalopy or, as the film suggests more than once, a snuffling pig.
  4. Reviewed by: Bill Zwecker
    Dec 23, 2014
    100
    Mr. Turner is far more than merely an explosion of color and toned nuance for the eye. The real reason to make this a must-see of this holiday season is to wallow in the Oscar-worthy acting talent of Leigh’s veteran player Timothy Spall.
  5. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Dec 23, 2014
    100
    Through it all, Spall is equally enigmatic and transfixing: With his guttural croaks and barks, his Turner is often difficult to understand, but, thanks to Spall’s amazing physical performance and Leigh’s sensitive, information-laden direction, he’s never incomprehensible.
  6. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Dec 23, 2014
    100
    Performances are still the heart of Leigh’s work, and at the heart of this film is an extraordinary performance by Leigh’s frequent collaborator, the British actor Timothy Spall.
  7. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Dec 22, 2014
    100
    Leigh's film — one of the year's best — honors its subject in all his tetchy ambiguity.
  8. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Dec 22, 2014
    100
    Turner's painting of the scene, The Fighting Temeraire will, in fact, become his masterpiece. As Mr. Turner is Mike Leigh's — a growling, snuffling, earthy work of art, every frame worthy of framing.
  9. 100
    Perhaps the most awesome thing in Mr. Turner is how Leigh and cinematographer Dick Pope hint at Turner’s paintings in their landscapes — not to make the film look painterly but to suggest what Turner saw before transmuting reality into art.
  10. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Dec 18, 2014
    100
    When we peruse this movie, we see a superb evocation of Turner’s latter years, during the first half of the 19th century, and a performance that’s symphonic in the sweep of its eccentricities, vivid in the spectrum of its passions.
  11. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Dec 18, 2014
    100
    Mr. Turner does resemble "Topsy-Turvy" in its meticulous yet vibrant recreation of the past and its ever-expanding thematic amplitude. This is a movie not only about one particular artist, but about art as both a field of human endeavor and an object of shifting cultural and economic value.
  12. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Dec 18, 2014
    100
    Just as Turner's expressive, enthralling work changed the nature of painting, Mr. Turner, anchored in the rock of Timothy Spall's astonishing, Cannes prize-winning performance, pushes hard against the strictures of conventional narrative and ends up pulling us into its world and capturing us completely.
  13. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Dec 18, 2014
    100
    Mr. Turner is a mighty work of critical imagination, a loving, unsentimental portrait of a rare creative soul. But even as it celebrates a glorious painter and illuminates the sources of his pictures with startling clarity and insight, the movie patiently and thoroughly demolishes more than a century’s worth of mythology about what art is and how artists work.
  14. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Dec 16, 2014
    100
    Leigh, Spall, and cinematographer Dick Pope — who borrows lots of lighting tricks from Vermeer and Ingres and even Turner himself, to glorious effect — have gently atomized Turner's character, breaking it into small, potent fragments that affect us in ways we don't see coming.
  15. Reviewed by: Neil Smith
    Nov 10, 2014
    100
    One great British artist pays tribute to another in a lengthy but rewarding homage that boasts a titanic turn at its centre. Rarely has watching paint dry been so fascinating.
  16. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    Oct 27, 2014
    100
    Shimmering with awards potential, Leigh’s glorious picture is a hilarious, confounding, wholehearted and dazzlingly performed portrait of an artist as an ageing man.
  17. Reviewed by: Leslie Felperin
    May 24, 2014
    100
    Anchored by a masterful performance by Timothy Spall in a role he was born to play, and gilded by career-best effort from DoP Dick Pope, working for the first time on digital for Leigh to bridge the gap between the painting and cinematography, Mr. Turner manages to illuminate that nexus between biography and art with elegant understatement.
  18. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    May 24, 2014
    100
    Beyond the troughful of fun tics, Spall makes Turner tenderly and totally human — the effect of which is to make his artistic talents seem even more extraordinary still.
  19. Reviewed by: Dave Calhoun
    May 24, 2014
    100
    As ever with Leigh, Mr Turner addresses the big questions with small moments. It's an extraordinary film, all at once strange, entertaining, thoughtful and exciting.
  20. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    May 24, 2014
    100
    Leigh has made another highly personal study of art, commerce and the glacial progress of establishment tastes, built around a lead performance from longtime Leigh collaborator Timothy Spall that’s as majestic as one of Turner’s own swirling sunsets.
  21. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    May 24, 2014
    100
    What a glorious film this is, richly and immediately enjoyable, hitting its satisfying stride straight away. It's funny and visually immaculate; it combines domestic intimacy with an epic sweep and has a lyrical, mysterious quality that perfumes every scene, whether tragic or comic.
  22. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Mar 1, 2015
    91
    Relaxed editing and well-researched set and costumes give us a firm feeling of the period, and Dick Pope (who has worked with Leigh 10 times) excels. It’s a cliche to say a cinematographer does painterly work, but Pope suffuses the screen with light in the way Turner did his canvases.
  23. Reviewed by: Oliver Lyttelton
    May 24, 2014
    91
    Mr Turner, though not without flaws, is something of a twilight culmination of Leigh's work, and very much one in which the filmmaker turns his lens on himself, as is so often the case when directors make movies about artists.
  24. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    May 24, 2014
    91
    Mr. Turner is a first-rate match of director and subject. Less an explication of the man's genius than an immersion into its essence.
  25. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jan 8, 2015
    90
    This isn't a warts-and-all portrayal. More like a warts-and-little-else one. But it is an inspired film, a beautiful exploration of art and creation and difficulty, with Spall's brilliant performance at its center.
  26. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Dec 18, 2014
    90
    Mr. Turner is a rich, ruthless and profoundly compassionate study of life and love and art, for those who find themselves on its wavelength, but it also presents itself as a challenge.
  27. Reviewed by: Keith Phipps
    Dec 17, 2014
    90
    Leigh’s generous approach to capturing the fullness of Turner’s life, through unhurried rhythms and scenes, makes Mr. Turner memorable.
  28. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Dec 1, 2014
    90
    Mr. Turner is a harsh, strange, but stirring movie, no more a conventional artist’s bio-pic than Robert Altman’s wonderful, little-seen film about van Gogh and his brother, “Vincent and Theo.”
  29. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Jan 28, 2015
    89
    There is little in the way of narrative eventfulness in the film, but Leigh luxuriates in the moments, and provides glimpses of what it takes to be an artist amid the fray.
  30. Reviewed by: Matt Zoller Seitz
    Dec 22, 2014
    88
    Filmmaker Mike Leigh's biography of the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner is what critics call "austere" — which means it's slow and grim and deliberately hard to love — yet it's fascinating, and the performances and photography are outstanding.
  31. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Dec 18, 2014
    88
    Timothy Spall, a character actor best known as Wormtail in the “Harry Potter’’ series, delivers an Oscar-caliber tour de force as eccentric British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner in the exquisite Mr. Turner.
  32. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Dec 17, 2014
    88
    Leigh embraces the contradictions in Turner. And in tandem with cinematographer Dick Pope, a master of light, he shows us the world as Turner sees it. The effect is harsh and ravishing. Leigh's beauty of a movie touches the heart not by sentimental gush but by the amplitude of its art.​
  33. Reviewed by: Chris Cabin
    Sep 8, 2014
    88
    An astute summation of Mike Leigh's glum view of humanity, but also a challenge to this disposition and his own pessimistic perspective.
  34. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Dec 17, 2014
    83
    Given the material, it’s fitting that Mr. Turner is the director’s most visually ravishing movie. With cinematographer Dick Pope behind the lens, every shot is gorgeous enough to hang in a museum.
  35. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Mar 6, 2015
    80
    In the end, Mr. Turner ends up being the best kind of period drama. That is, it is a transportive one, whisking audiences away to a distinct time and place, while also providing no small amount of insight about its subject.
  36. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Dec 17, 2014
    80
    Spall is best known for his supporting performances (Winston Churchill in “The King’s Speech,” Peter Pettigrew in the “Harry Potter” films). But he’s among the highest class of character actor, able to make a role of any size his own. Leigh has given Spall the gift of a lifetime in J.M.W. Turner.
  37. Reviewed by: John Bleasdale
    May 24, 2014
    80
    In arguably a career-topping performance, Timothy Spall plays the cantankerous painter as a complex, grunting, snarling and utterly single-minded creature.
  38. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jan 23, 2015
    75
    The film is intricately composed using the shadows created by natural lighting and some of the most astonishing sunsets and landscapes ever captured on screen. Pope's work is immersive and allows viewers to become engaged in a story that occasionally moves a little too slowly.
  39. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Jan 15, 2015
    75
    For modern moviegoers, the earthy Mr. Turner may seem like slowly steeped tea with an unpleasant aftertaste. But while some are impatiently waiting for the paint to dry, astute viewers will see a cinematic landscape bloom.
  40. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Dec 19, 2014
    75
    It’s a painfully uneven movie, but its best moments are ravishingly good.
  41. 75
    And as long as it is, it would be a pity to cut one moment of Spall’s immersive, utterly convincing portrait of this common man with an uncommon gift.
  42. Reviewed by: Guy Lodge
    May 24, 2014
    75
    Mr. Turner's passions and neuroses feel more peculiar to Leigh and his own work. It's tempting, even, to view the film as biopic-as-self-portrait, revealing shades of one life through another.
  43. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Dec 17, 2014
    50
    Mr. Spall, winner of the Cannes and New York Film Critics Circle best-actor awards, does his best to bring an unpleasant character to life — grunting and snorting like a boar ready to charge, spitting on his canvases and dragging around with a constant wince like a fat baby with colic. With all due respect, he’s too repulsive to watch for 150 minutes.
User Score
6.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 71 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 22
  2. Negative: 9 out of 22
  1. Dec 28, 2014
    1
    A beautifully crafted,dismal, degrading and hugely disappointing descent into a narrow depiction of a small slice of Turner's life. The filmA beautifully crafted,dismal, degrading and hugely disappointing descent into a narrow depiction of a small slice of Turner's life. The film hardly relates to his painting process or what it meant and felt to him at all, in fact it gives the impression that his art was just something he did as an occupation and something wholly inconsequential. Instead it focused entirely on every bit of negativity of his life and character, spiced with a couple of well known incidents handled in a halfhearted manner in an effort at convincing us that this is still the man we came to see. The non-existing story line rambles on at the later part of his life and is more a socio-cultural portrait of the environment he lived in, filled with sickly, ugly pathological men and women, living in stuffy repressed times, stumbling on to their shabby graves. The film does not touch upon his childhood or background, his growth and passion for art, the technicalities and extraordinary development of his work, and the undoubtedly ecstatic states he must have derived from the fulfilling moments of his efforts. Absolutely nothing to show us and touch us about what drove and inspired the man. Nothing about the flight, the journey, the adventure. Given that he was such a profound artist and his visual understanding was a century before his time, it is mind boggling that everything that truly matters about him has been sidelined and that instead we are served a mean and mediocre extract of the least interesting little parts of this genius's life and personality. What a let down, no wonder the 'top critics' love it. The filming, lighting, ambiance and visuals are flawless and duly equaled by a wonderful cast of great actors... What a wasted opportunity! What a perverse disappointment. Full Review »
  2. Dec 19, 2014
    0
    I'll get right to the point, Mr. Turner is absolutely horrible. A movie that is painful to watch because of its unbearable length, extremeI'll get right to the point, Mr. Turner is absolutely horrible. A movie that is painful to watch because of its unbearable length, extreme boredom, a main character that nobody will like and a story of utter trash. Mr. Turner is everything a movie shouldn't be. I hated literally every minute of this ridiculous 150 minute film. Full Review »
  3. Dec 26, 2014
    4
    Despite beautiful cinematography, an intriguing soundtrack and a career performance by Timothy Spall, this overlong, meandering, unfocusedDespite beautiful cinematography, an intriguing soundtrack and a career performance by Timothy Spall, this overlong, meandering, unfocused biopic brings us no closer to understanding the protagonist or the motivations behind his life and his art than we did at the picture's outset. For Mike Leigh, a writer-director known for his character studies, this is a major disappointment, where the principal element of his filmmaking style is almost wholly lacking. It's a true mystery why this film is being lavished with such undeserved praise. Full Review »