Review - Big Eyes

Big Eyes (2014), PG-13, 105 minutes - Big Eyes is the latest directorial project from Tim Burton and is based on the events of artist Margaret Keane's life. Events which are both phenomenal and unbelievable at the same time. I can't say as I was familiar with her story before now, but it really is quite remarkable.

Margaret (Amy Adams) met fellow artist and future husband Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) while painting portraits in the park for money in an attempt to support herself and her daughter. Keane was a charming man who had lived over seas and seemed to know everyone. They got along well, and when Margaret's ex-husband attempted to get custody of her daughter claiming that she could not provide a stable environment, they got married. Shortly thereafter, Walter talked his way into displaying their art at a local night club. His foreign street-scapes and her portraits of children with distinctive over-sized eyes. One night a couple mistakenly thought that one of the portraits had been painted by Walter and in an effort to close the sale, he went along with the lie. Backed by a handful of cash and the promise of more to come, he convinced Margaret to continue her painting and with his promotion they would sell them under his name. Between her unique style and his salesmanship, the children with the big eyes became a phenomenon that garnered national recognition in the 1960's as the lie grew and grew. So much so that Margaret would keep locked away in her studio so that her own daughter would not see that she was the one painting the portraits. At first Margaret was content with the set up, but as other lies of Walter's came to light, she decided to stand up for herself, her daughter and her work and left him. Only after he tried to extort more paintings out of her in exchange for a divorce did she blow the whistle on the whole charade in 1970.

Amy Adams turns in her usual wonderful performance, at times being a strong independent woman and at others being very submissive and non-confrontational. Waltz counters with equal parts charm and false sincerity. He has become one of the few actors that truly embodies his characters. As a viewer, we can go from despising him in Inglorious Basterds to loving him in Django Unchained to detesting him again in Big Eyes. Who know if either will rack up another Oscar nomination for this film, but I certainly wouldn't argue if they did. Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, Danny Huston, and Terrence Stamp also have nice supporting roles. Outside of a couple of scenes in which Margaret sees big eyes starring back at her when she looks at people, it's almost impossible to tell that this is a film directed by Tim Burton. It's a nice little touch that puts his mark on the film but isn't a distraction.

If you enjoy biographical dramas, or anything starring Adams or Waltz, be sure to check this film out. It's an amazing story and it is almost hard to believe that it really happened. I love films like this that shine a light on some of the more unique stories from our country's history.  


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