November 20, 2015

Film Review—Big Eyes by Tim Burton

Margaret (Amy Adams) leaves her husband and moves to San Francisco to make a living as an artist in the bustling 1950s art scene. She finds it difficult to promote her works, despite their unique ‘big eyed waif’ quality. She meets Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who is also trying to strike it big with his European street scenes. Walter is a charmer and helps Margaret sell her paintings by pretending they are his works. It’s a success, but the strain of lying to everyone, including her daughter, takes its toll on Margaret, and Walter’s shady stories and past start to unravel.

Big Eyes is a refreshing change from Tim Burton, dropping the zany lead in a bizarre world and adopting a more real world setting, although still with his flair for perfectly framed shots with rich colour and stylised vistas. Here Burton adopts a domestic tale, where Margaret’s desires and skills are usurped by Walter’s own plans despite a lack of skill, giving a direct, if obvious feminist tale. The plot is straightforward, but has some interesting moments between Adams and Waltz. Adams’ delicately brittle performance couldn’t be appropriate, but Waltz, although entertaining as always, fell into the predictable, once again playing the charming deviant. Half way through the film you start thinking a more subtle performance would have aided the story.

Big Eyes is an invigorating and much welcomed development in Burton’s unique filmography.

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