The Turner Surprise: The Artist Who Stole Mike Leigh’s Heart

The British director behind such social-realist classics as ‘Secrets & Lies’ and ‘Vera Drake’ paints a convincing picture of artistic genius in ‘Mr. Turner.’

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The opening scene of British director Mike Leigh’s new film, “Mr. Turner,” is paralyzing in its beauty. The year is 1820 and two women walk on the beach at sunset. In the background is a windmill. The clouds...