Big Eyes: Blu Ray Review
Released by Roadshow Home Ent
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz star in this straight-down-the-line flick about Margaret Keane from master of the slightly weird Tim Burton.
Keane was the painter of the pictures of children with over-large eyes (it's easy to see why Burton's Gothic tendencies were drawn to this story) - but her story is more complex than that. Walking out on her husband in 1958 with a daughter, Margaret comes to San Francisco determined to provide for her family and be creative.
One day she meets confident bon vivant and would-be artist Walter (an overly energetic Waltz) who falls under her spell - and one chance incident later, Margaret's paintings are a massive hit on the burgeoning 60s American scene. But Margaret falters when asked who painted them, leading to Walter claiming them as his own for their shared interest...
And things get worse as the Keane's art fame grows, and Margaret shrinks ever smaller in her husband's growing shadow - is his altruism real or has Margaret made a terrible mistake?
Big Eyes is surprising.
It features the usual crisp Burton aesthetics and shots (the opening moments are a pristine mix of colours and images) but the subject matter is relatively straight down the line, something he's not done since Big Fish. (And the soundtrack from Danny Elfman deserves particular mention)
However, a quieter turn from Adams is powerful and impresses as Waltz's turn becomes ever more OTT. It's not that it's a bad performance from Waltz, merely that his character needs the impetus to over-shadow Margaret and Waltz embraces it with a joie de vivre that's both compelling and frightening. A court-room scene particularly brings some peculiar laughs.
Occasionally, the story jumps around and motives for Margaret's behaviour are never fully explained (I was never quite convinced as to why she shrank from claiming the art was her own at the start, even though I guess walking out on a man was a big thing in the early 1950s) and a few scenes suffer from choppy editing.
Overall though, Big Eyes is an impressively quiet little film - it befits Burton to do the straighter turn from his usual kooky oddbeat fare. While the interest wanes towards the end and the conclusion of the storyline isn't quite as powerful as it could be, that remains a fault of the scripting, rather than of any of those involved.