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Janet W., Here….
A few things are expected when you view a Tim Burton film…dark comedy, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and a twisted outcome. Big Eyes is different. The true story of Margaret D.H. Keane/Margaret (Amy Adams), a renowned artist, is told in bright light. The only seemingly twisted or dark aspect of Big Eyes are the twin pools of the deepest fathoms that are the eyes of the people in Margaret’s paintings. Big Eyes follows the sad yet courageous journey of Margaret from the escape from her first marriage to her triumph of finding her self as well as her voice.
The film opens on a printing press firing off copies of artwork. Right away it is clear that capitalism is major part of her life. This is not simply a personal journey for Margaret, but also Margaret’s professional genesis and diffusion of her work throughout the world. The development of Margaret’s marketing plan was probably, the only silver lining of her second marriage to Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz).
Amy Adams accurately portrayed the innocence and naivety of Margaret with an expert ability. This did not surprise me as Adams has an effortless innocent appearance in most, if not all, of her films (from Enchanted to Leap Year, two of my faves for her). The innocence is all in her eyes, which made her perfect for this film. I had only seen Christoph Waltz once before in Django Unchained, but I saw a certain dignity and honor in him while portraying Dr. King Schultz.
In Big Eyes, Waltz flipped not just in character (Keane is as sinister as Schultz is noble) but also in performance. In Django Unchained there was a smoothness and consistency to Waltz’s performance. However, in Big Eyes, Waltz was perhaps overly erratic. Maybe Keane was so spastic, but he wasn’t menacing enough, in my mind, to have feared him as Margaret did. Perhaps it was the time as this film is set in the 50s – 60s. A welcomed surprise was the glimpse of the formidable Terance Stamp as John Canaday, an art critic. Stamp has always had a presence like no other, one of respect and even reverence. I wish his role was more than the bit that it was. I have enjoyed Stamp since he was General Zod in the original Superman to his memorable roles in The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Elektra and Wanted.
Big Eyes was not quite what I expected after hearing that it was directed by Tim Burton, but it was a good movie. There were moments of odd special effects, Margaret sees everyone including herself with the big eyes of her painting style. The significance of this imagery was never revealed. Admittedly, the film is a little slow for its majority and once the pace picks up the film shortly afterward ends. To those of little patience, I say, “Hang in there, it will be worth it.” The ways that Margaret repays the deception and terrorization she suffered from Keane will make you proud.
4 out of 5 Stars
Janet L. White