"Clenching" Buttocks in 'Mr. Turner' Tops List of U.K. Film Complaints

'Mr. Turner,' Mike Leigh (Competition)

Four-time Cannes competition veteran (and 1996 Palme d’Or winner for Secrets & Lies), Leigh returns to the Croisette (after being snubbed by the French festival for Vera Drake) with arguably the most compelling of the many biopics on offer at this year's fest. Regular Leigh collaborator Timothy Spall stars as the British Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner. Lesley Manville co-stars in the feature, which Sony Pictures Classics picked up for the U.S. ahead of its Cannes premiere. (Sales: Sunray Films)

Nineteen people wrote to the British Board of Film Classification about the scene with Timothy Spall.

It might not seem like the obvious choice amid the violence often condemned as corrupting cinema viewers, but Mike Leigh’s historic biopic Mr. Turner has been named the most complained-about film of 2014 in the U.K.

According to the British Board of Film Classification, 19 people wrote in with complaints regarding a scene in which Timothy Spall — who won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for his performance — is seen “clenching” his buttocks.

In the sequence in which Turner has sex with his housekeeper, the BBFC said that Spall’s “clothed buttocks are seen clenching vigorously, before the scene cuts to a close-up of his face and his thrusting head and shoulder.”

The complainants argued that the scene was unsuitable for a 12A certificate, which requires an adult accompanying any child under the age of 12, but the BBFC defended its rating, saying it was appropriate because of the “lack of nudity, the relative brevity of the scene and its importance in terms of narrative.”

Second on the BBFC's list for 2014 was 12 Years a Slave, which received 12 letters of complaint over a rape scene.