Mr. Turner

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Mr. Turner Movie Poster Image
Biopic of famous painter is well-acted but slow moving.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 149 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It's important to be true to your art, even if it's not immediately appreciated. Attempting to create art solely to please the general public will invariably lead to trite, insignificant work.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Turner isn't an especially nice person. He ignores his children, derides some of his fellow painters, and takes advantage of his housekeeper, all in the name of his art.


Turner occasionally has sex with his housekeeper. The encounters aren't especially erotic; his desire seems more primal and animalistic. Viewers see his naked backside thrusting with vigor. He also spends some time in brothels, but -- at least in the film -- it's mostly to find women who will pose nude for him to paint.


Brief profanity includes "damn" and "ass."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several scenes feature people drinking wine and occasionally smoking a pipe.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mr. Turner is a period biopic about acclaimed English painter J.M.W. Turner, whose landscapes helped pave the way for the Impressionist movement. Director Mike Leigh focuses on Turner's (Timothy Spall) last few decades, revealing the depths of his talent and his complicated personal life. Characters in this engrossing but slow-moving film often drink wine and sometimes smoke (accurate for the era), and some scenes include sex, with a naked thrusting backside. For all his talent, Turner isn't a particularly admirable character, but the film's message about being true to your art is worth thinking about.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byPatrick senior May 27, 2015

Arty needing patience

Higher rating given due to relationship between Mr Turner and his household servant which could be considered to take advantage of his position of authority and... Continue reading
Adult Written byB-KMastah February 13, 2015

A true disappointment.

It really pains me to say this, but Mr. Turner is boring. Even as a person that usually really likes slow movies and absolutely adores some such as Eyes Wide Sh... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old December 15, 2016

12 in England. R in America.

Mr. Turner is rated 12 in my home country, so I thought it would be alright. Instead, I found a sexually emotional artist who visits a prostitute and tells her... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old August 17, 2015

Really Bad

This movie was so bad. It was so slow and boring it was not good at all, The only thing good about it was the cinematography.

What's the story?

Director Mike Leigh's biopic MR. TURNER traces the last few decades in the life of acclaimed English painter J.M.W. Turner. While Turner was renowned for his Romantic landscapes, which heralded the burgeoning Impressionist movement, actor Timothy Spall explores the artist's personal side, offering up a portrait of a boorish, complicated brute who barely speaks, abandons his children, takes advantage of his housekeepers, maligns his fellow painters, and is mostly unlikable -- except when he is. He's dedicated to his paintings, but the pursuit of art is much more straightforward than his relationships.

Is it any good?

Mr. Turner is a visually arresting movie that exceeds expectations when it comes to exploring and presenting the great painter's art, suffusing it with the light and energy his work is known for. However, the film confounds in its portrayal of the man. No doubt much of this has to do with Turner himself, whose complicated, difficult childhood produced a complicated, difficult man. But it also has something to do with how he's written. Spall is a delight as the crude, eccentric Turner, but he's also opaque, delighting with specificities but falling short when it comes to making the artist reachable.

This, perhaps, has to do with the story itself, which has flashes of humor and historic insight, ably shepherded by Leigh, but goes on for too long, weighing down a fascinating film about a fascinating man and leaving it wanting. Similarly to how Turner communicates, less would have been more.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the artist J.M.W. Turner. What did you learn about his life from Mr. Turner? Were you aware of him before seeing the movie? How accurate do you think the film is? Why might filmmakers tweak the facts in movies based on true stories?

  • What do you think about the way the film approaches its subject? Did the pacing help you appreciate the languid act of creating art? How does Spall bring the character to life?

  • How is sex depicted in the movie? Is it romantic? What function does it serve for the characters?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

Themes & Topics

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