In the late 1950s and early '60s, artist Walter Keane achieves unbelievable fame and success with portraits of saucer-eyed waifs. However, no one realizes that his wife, Margaret, is the real painter behind the brush. Although Margaret is horrified to learn that Walter is passing off her work as his own, she is too meek to protest too loudly. It isn't until the Keanes' marriage comes to an end and a lawsuit follows that the truth finally comes to light.
Film making could be the windows of the soul...
Directed by Tim Burton and written by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, Big Eyes brings to the screen the story of artist Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), who was producing a number of paintings of waifs with big eyes that captured the art world's imagination. Unfortunately her charlatan husband (Christolph Waltz) manipulated the interest in her work to claim it as his own, leading to Margaret having to front up to the lie and take the case to court.
Quite often the beauty of filmic cinema is that it can bring notice to the public about certain topics in history. The story of Margaret Keane is a story well worth telling, it may not be all encompassing as a biography since it is just about the key part of her life, but getting the story out there is to be applauded. I myself knew nothing about the Keane case, but I'm glad I do now, this film adaptation forcing me to seek out further reading on the subject.
It actually doesn't matter if you have a bent for art on canvas (me, but I do find those paintings beautifully beguiling), this is more about the human spirit, the crushing of such and the birth of. However, sadly to a degree the film often seems at odds with itself via tonal flows. There's whimsy where there shouldn't be, the drama should be front and centre, whilst Waltz's performance is awfully cartoonish, way too animated, and these problems are laid firmly at Burton's door, an odd choice of director for the material, it's like they felt the off kilter look of the paintings marked Burton as a shoe-in to direct.
Conversely he gets a sparkling turn out of Adams, she plays Margaret as being so vulnerable but radiant, yet she's perfectly infuriating as well, tugging our heart strings whilst troubling our anger senses. It's the strength of Adams' turn that steers Big Eyes away from choppy waters, for even as the court case that makes up the finale is given too little time to breath and make the ultimate mark, Adams as Margaret holds her own court and seals the deal for a big uplift - which in turn marks Big Eyes out as a film of great warmth and importance. 7.5/10
The Weinstein Company, Silverwood Films, Electric City Entertainment, Tim Burton Productions by Tim Burton, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski.
Stars: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Danny Huston.
Genres: Biography, Crime, Drama
Keywords: husband wife relationship hawaii artist court case biography painting based on true story honolulu, hawaii jehovah's witness 1950s 1960s
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