Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter
Tim Burton is the auteur of dark, twisted, campy fun, and as of late, he's been behind some of the more subpar disappointments at the cinema. With Big Eyes, Burton somewhat returns to form delivering an intriguing story. What's missing, though, is the unique touches that usually make a Burton film.
The true-life story of artist Margaret Keane is a little all over the place. In the late 1950's Keane found herself and her daughter fleeing to San Francisco to escape her husband. Selling her artwork on the sidewalk, Keane meets and quickly falls for fellow artist Walter. The two get married in the Hawaiian paradise and should seemingly have a happy life. That is until Walter begins taking credit for her work: paintings featuring sad-looking children with big eyes. The paintings are a hit and Walter isn't one to let the thirst for fame ever die. Margaret goes along with the plan for a decade before she finally has enough. Realizing Walter is more of a fraud than she ever knew, she takes him to court in one of the more colorful courtroom scenes brought to life.
Because this is a true story, there should be an extra gentleness taken in the casting. Amy Adams as Margaret is a delectable choice. While looks may not be a number one factor here, Adams gives a certain naivety to Margaret that propels her to the ultimate levels of victimhood. Christoph Waltz, on the other hand, phones in the performance of Walter as a mean, conniving husband who's really focused on himself. Waltz has done more interesting work before. The film is mostly a character study of these two, but cameos by the likes of Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, and Danny Huston are more than welcome.
As a story, Big Eyes works. As a Tim Burton film, it falters. The color schemes are there and small moments of wittiness show up, but the overall dark take on life we're used to is missing. Good on Burton for doing something different, but like all the greats, there something to keeping in style with what you do best.
It's a shame this film opened wide in the middle of the holiday season. Adams deserves more recognition for her Margaret and the film itself is easily lost amongst much larger players. If you get a chance to see it, it's worth your time, especially in regards to the visuals.
Runtime: 105 minutes