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Mike Leigh's Mr Turner tops UK film complaints for 2014

Mr Turner

Story by Jack Foley

MIKE Leigh’s Mr Turner was the most complained about film of 2014, according to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

The biopic of artist JMW Turner, starring Timothy Spall, attracted 19 complaints from people who complained about a scene involving the artist having sex with his housekeeper.

The offending scene involved a clothed Mr Turner “clenching his [clothed] buttocks”, before the scene cuts to a close-up of his face and his thrusting head and shoulders. According to the BBFC report, Mr Turner appears distressed throughout the scene, which subsequently ends with him sobbing “almost in an exhibition of self-loathing”.

Audiences who complained felt the scene was inappropriate for a 12A certificate film.

But the BBFC admitted in its annual report that the “very low” number of complaints represented a “tiny portion” of the film’s total audience.

It went on to state that it had deemed the scene appropriate for a 12A because of “the lack of nudity, the relative brevity of the scene and its importance in terms of narrative”.

It added that “context is central to the question of acceptability”.

Leading man Spall won widespread acclaim for his portrayal of Turner, as well as a best actor prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival – although the film failed to generate any Oscar buzz.

The second-most complained about film of 2014 was Oscar winning movie 12 Years A Slave, which drew 12 complaints about the violence, particularly the sexual violence, in the true story of a free man forced into slavery in the American south.

The annual list is usually dominated by horror or action movies, with Christopher Nolan’s Batman sequel, The Dark Knight, still the film with the most complaints (300) of recent years.

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