Thursday, December 25, 2014

Big Eyes

Movie Name: Big Eyes
Year of Release: 2014
Director: Tim Burton
Stars: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter, Danny Huston, Jon Polito, Jason Schwartzman, Terence Stamp, Madeleine Arthur,
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

After the double releases of 2012 with "Dark Shadows" and "Frankenweenie", director Tim Burton is back, this time around reuniting with screenwriters Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander, whom with he worked on the most excellent "Ed Wood" in 1994. The film is based on the true story of famous artist Margaret Keane, and her paintings depicting sad children with huge eyes. The film introduces us to Margaret in the late 50s, when she leaves her first husband, alongside her daughter to make a living in San Francisco. While in the Bay Area, Margaret meets another charming painter by the name of Walter Keane, who claims to have learnt painting while living in Paris (after the second world war). The romantic relationship quickly develops, and the couple weds in Hawaii. Upon returning to Northern California, Walter tries to sell both their artwork without much success, until Margaret's paintings catch the attention of several people, something that Walter perceives, and takes ownership of, claiming the authorship of the paintings. Margaret for sakes of keeping the money income flowing, though with reservations, goes along with the scheme, until the cracks start showing up.
Margaret Keane's life story is a convoluted one, and definitely one that sparks the interest of director Tim Burton. Much like his heroes, the central character, is someone artistic and with a different sensibility. Margaret is a burgeoning artist who is taken advantage of by an egomaniac man of limited skill, or so it appears as is depicted by Christoph Waltz in the film. "Big Eyes" is very successful in capturing the tone, ambiance of the 60s, with all the vibrant colors (and stunning cinematography), but the depiction of the central characters is a bit uneven - whereas Amy Adams builds a layered character, a woman who slowly gains conscience and awareness of her self worth, Christoph Waltz's character slowly devolves into a parody of a human being - much of this is due to Waltz's overacting, which makes Walter into a grotesque monster of selfishness and ultimately a user of the worst kind. The film is nonetheless a fantastic insight into the artworld of the 60s, and to the work of an artist who had to claim her own spot in that universe, and in her own life. A good film worth watching.