Big Eyes (2014) Film Review, a movie directed by Tim Burton, and starring Amy Adams, Krysten Ritter, Christoph Waltz, Jason Schwartzman, Danny Huston, Terence Stamp, Stephanie Bennett, Heather Doerksen, Andrew Airlie, Jon Polito, Elisabetta Fantone, Emily Fonda, James Saito, and Vanessa Ross.
Tim Burton’s Big Eyes is a departure from his previous films. Unlike Batman, Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, other action films, comedies, or send-ups, this is a biography of painter Margaret Keane and her artwork known as Big Eyes. Though unlike his previous work, all of Burton’s trademarks are here. There is a neurotic, shy, main character that remains upbeat and all smiles despite the dire circumstances that surround her. There is a villain that is a bully but constantly hides the evil side that lurks within him. Behind the scenes of the film, Mr. Burton even has sidekick musician Danny Elfman on the project with him. What could go wrong?
Well to be honest, nothing really goes wrong with the movie. It is a very well put together film with great performances and great cinematography. The colors are wonderful to look at and all the paintings are as interesting as their real life counterparts. When I stepped out of the theater I couldn’t shake the feeling of “what did I just do?” I had a hard time remembering the movie and it’s plot. It didn’t stick with me. I’m not really sure why it is so forgettable but maybe it is because Tim Burton movies usually have a tone of the supernatural or something fantastic. This movie was just too real. This is a real feat for Mr. Burton considering some of his films feature dead dogs coming back to life.
The story is one of the art world’s biggest controversies: Margaret Keane (Amy Adams)’s husband (Christoph Waltz) takes credit for her work. The paintings sell much better under the clever mind of Walter and the Big Eyes become a phenomenon. Margaret has to live with no one knowing her talent, not even her own daughter. Amy Adams does a great job playing a woman who knows what is happening is wrong but is too scared of the consequences of what would happen if she speaks out. Christoph Waltz plays a man who is both scary and cowardly at the same time. He also makes a face constantly in the film that screams, “I’m going to screw you over and I’m going like it.”
One of the most striking things in this film is the use of religion and it’s influence in telling the story. Margaret goes to confession to seek help with her conscience over the matter of lying. The priest’s answer is a subtle jab at the Catholic Church and their treatment of women. Later in the film, Margaret finds the help she needs in the Mormon community.
The other striking commentary in the film is the definition of art and what makes it good. The film offers two theories: there is art credited to the skill and mastery of a style. The other is art is that can be sold on a postcard and make people happy. This question is largely left unanswered, forcing the audience to go home and continue the debate amongst themselves.
Big Eyes is not a work of art. It is a testament to painter and mother Margaret Keane who is betrayed by the man she loved and worked for. Margaret finds the strength to speak out from the ashes of her relationship. This is an empowering movie for creative people struggling to hone their art, make a life for themselves, and for women struggling to find their voice.
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