‘Mr. Turner’ has enjoyed an emphatic opening at Cannes 2014, where many critics were moved to award Mike Leigh’s biopic of the British artist, J.M.W Turner. It could be early Cannes excitement from the press, but Timothy Spall’s performance as the titular artist is already attracting Oscar gossip, as ridiculous as that is.

Mr. TurnerTimothy Spall as Mr. Turner

“Every scene in this film is expertly managed; every comic line and funny moment adroitly presented and every performance given with intelligence and love. It is another triumph for Mike Leigh and for Timothy Spall,” wrote Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian, slapping 5 stars on the film.  

“The film is studded with these gem-like supporting roles, many of which are taken by regular Leigh players, including Lesley Manville and Ruth Sheen. Picking favourites is too difficult, but let’s just say the lisping art critic John Ruskin, hilariously played by Joshua McGuire as an oblivious smarty-pants, struck a chord with a few of us here on the Cwoisette,” said Robbie Collin of The Telegraph, also awarding Mr Turner 5-stars. 

Timothy SpallMike Leigh's Mr. Turner has been lauded by the critics

“Not only do we end up with a vivid, surprising and soulful sense of one artist and his work, but Leigh also offers us a commanding view of a city, London, and country at the dawn of the modern age and of a man being overawed and overtaken by new technologies such as photography and the railways,” writes Time Out’s Dave Calhoun in another 5-star review. “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.” 

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“Mr. Turner is up there with cinema’s finest art-biography evocations – the likes of Peter Watkins’s Munch and Paul Cox’s Vincent And Theo, about Van Gogh and his brother. It’s an ensemble film par excellence, but Spall makes a magnificent centre to the film, as a deeply eccentric, gruff, proudly individual man, huffing and grunting like a turkey, sometimes expressing deep pain, and cheerfully flaunting his knowledge of the classics – a man all in all suffused with the proverbial lust for life,” wrote Jonathan Romney of Screendaily, who don’t give star ratings, but this one felt like a 5-starrer, too.

Watch the trailer for the critically acclaimed 'Mr Turner':