‘Mr. Turner,” a biopic of 19th-century English landscape painter J.M.W. Turner, came about when Mike Leigh, one of Britain’s most-treasured filmmakers, teamed up with English actor Timothy Spall. The film is a grand testimonial to the alchemy that happens when two great artists get together to channel a third — in this case, arguably the best painter England has ever spawned — resurrecting him from history and beyond the grave.
The film concentrates the efforts of all three men — Leigh, Spall and Turner (in spirit and work) — in such a way that the three identities seem to merge into one. At the request of Leigh, Spall spent two years learning to paint, and Leigh himself has spent much time with a brush and palette.