What a breath of fresh air - a movie that is totally not Hollywood! This means: there is no narrative arc, there are no explanations of anything, and if you weren't already familiar with the DNB entry on Turner you might be a bit baffled by it.
It starts in the middle of Turner's life, when he's already famous and successful, and it just, shows you stuff happening. We have no idea why he is so tense and hostile to the mother of his children, or why he should wish to torment Constable. Spall's interpretation of Turner seems very much at odds with the beautiful creature familiar to us from Turner's self-portrait at the age of twenty three, and indeed is inescapably reminiscent of Terry Jones's unforgettable portrayal of Mr Creosote from The Meaning of Life.
It's intriguing, ravishing to look at, and though entirely devoid of car-chases or explosions I was not conscious of any longueurs. Fascinating to consider the variety of feminine role models on display - of course one would much rather be the excellent Mrs Booth with her sparkling windowpanes and snowy linen, than Turner's unfortunate housekeeper/occasional shag Hannah, who appeared not to change her dress or her cap for over twenty years, or the glacially snooty young Queen Victoria, spurning Turner in favour of the ghastly Pre-Raphs. Altogether very much to be recommended - much to enjoy in retrospect.