By all accounts, Mr. Turner had brilliant performances and great production value. And yet, it has been a long time since I sat through a movie this tedious to watch.
I suppose when these sets and costumes are researched and fabricated, the people who produce the film want to get their money’s worth by telling as much story as possible. Or perhaps the person editing the script didn’t think about what sort of tedious trip the viewers were going to be embarking upon without much in the way of action. Either way, this film was about an hour longer than it needed to be.
A period piece told in linear fashion without a narrator, Mr. Turner was hard to sit through. About an hour into the film, I had to stop and come back to it, and not due to personal time constraints, but rather the limits of my attention span.
Timothy Spall was great in the titular role, with his mannerisms and body language, but he wasn’t a terribly interesting character. The way the story unfolded didn’t do him any favors, either.
When I watch a movie, I want to enjoy it. The film doesn’t have to be happy, funny, or exciting, but there’s something to be said for enjoying the journey the movie takes one on. Even if it’s just a cathartic experience that gives us a chance to be empathetic or revisit something emotionally. There are many ways to enjoy a movie, even if the pacing is slower than we would typically like, or the subject matter is dark, or the topic is something in which we’re not particularly interested.
Mr. Turner just wasn’t an enjoyable journey. Perhaps if the film’s run-time were cut by about an hour, the plodding moments wouldn’t weigh it down so much. There were quite a few things which could have been removed from the film despite the fact that they helped frame what society was like at the time, and gave insight into the types of experiences Mr. Turner had along the way, perhaps even helped define him as a character. Because when we got to the point where our lead character changes his outlook on things and starts altering his craft, the journey took so long to get there that it’s hard to look back at the sum total of what had been presented to that point to understand how he got there, and why he made the changes.
It’s ineffective storytelling. If the audience doesn’t care about the protagonist, or doesn’t at least understand where they’re coming from, what good is it that the production values and performances were all top notch?
The addition of the new source of conflict into the film breathes enough life into the proceedings that the second half isn’t boring, but I’m afraid many will stop watching before they get to the parts of the film which the trailers made seem interesting.
My rating: 5 out of 10
I thought about rating it worse than a 5 because of how dreadfully boring it was, but I have to give some credit to the quality they put into the film.