Starring: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, Danny Huston, Terence Stamp
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 1 hr 45 min
As a movie about the injustice Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) endured at the hand of her husband, Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), Big Eyes is mostly successful. It covers the bullet points of her life well enough, and sets the tone and look of 50’s/60’s America nicely. Amy Adams delivers an excellent performance as Margaret, and Tim Burton’s penchant for fantastical visuals is kept nice and subdued, which suits the nature of this biographical film perfectly.
If the goal was to create a straight forward biopic, and deliver an audience pleasing ‘true’ story complete with a righteous conclusion. Mission accomplished. I just can’t help feeling this was a missed opportunity. As characters go, Walter Keane was actually more interesting. A slimy opportunist and pathological liar, that never actually admitted to stealing Margaret’s work right up until the day he died in December 2000. A man who exploited the inherent sexism of the 1950’s and 60’s, and profited from his wife’s talents.
This movie also could have explored the business of art more thoroughly. Is art like fashion? Trends coming and going. Does an artist’s personal exploration with acrylic on canvas become trite if the work becomes popular? Or, is it unfair to expect an artist to make ends meet with the sale of the occasional high-priced piece of work that only the wealthy can appreciate? Points the movie touches on, but never properly explores in my opinion.
Ultimately, while Big Eyes is a solid well acted drama, it doesn’t seem interested in being anything other than a paint by numbers biopic. It works as an informative wikipedia deep look into Margaret Keane’s life and struggle with her husband. But doesn’t spend a great deal of time discussing her work, or challenge the audience to debate the nature of great art.
If you are a fan of Amy Adams, this film is certainly worth checking out. Her performance is the single best reason to see this film. The film is rated PG-13 for brief strong language.
This is a great looking film, and the production design, lighting and photography, especially the interior shots of the Keane home are really interesting. I suggest a matinée screening, or a HD TV show if you wait for the rental.
Amy Adams. She brings a lot of heart to the role, and is credible as the put upon artist trying to get ahead in a world that treats women as second class citizens.