The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

BIG EYES (2014) *** ½

Big Eyes is the least Tim Burton-y movie that Tim Burton has made. However, it’s a quite entertaining film that has a lot to say about an artist’s honesty and integrity. As one of the world’s leading eccentric filmmakers, I’m sure this subject touched a nerve with Burton.

Written by Burton’s Ed Wood screenwriters, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, Big Eyes tells the real-life story of artist Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), who paints pictures of big-eyed children. Her egomaniacal and overbearing husband, Walter (Christoph Waltz), a failed artist himself, passes the painting off as his own in order to make a sale. In the beginning, Margaret goes along with the lie to sell the paintings, but soon she becomes dominated by her husband’s demands for more product. While Walter becomes a sensation, going on television and coming up with increasingly successful promotions, Margaret is locked away in a little room cranking out painting after painting. Finally, she has enough, leaves her husband, takes him to court, and exposes one of the biggest hoaxes the art world has ever seen.

What makes Big Eyes more than just a domestic squabble/courtroom drama movie is that it doesn’t shy away from Margaret’s part in the hoax. At first she is quite culpable, as she allows her husband to take credit for the work. Once she sees his true money-hungry nature, she finally defies him, and the film is at its best when it shows the emotional and spiritual toll the hoax takes on Margaret.

Waltz is excellent as Keane. He does a great job at manipulating Margaret while seeming charming and seductive. Adams is also quite good, especially when illustrating her character’s moral dilemma.

There’s only one real scene that feels like a Tim Burton movie though. That comes when a guilt-ridden Margaret goes to the grocery store and is stalked by big-eyed customers. This sequence is pretty cool, and you wish there were more of these Burton touches throughout. On the other hand, I think it was nice to finally see some restraint coming from Burton. I don’t know how many Alice and Wonderlands we could stomach.

Tags: b, burton, drama
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