Big Eyes (2014)

(On Cable TV, November 2015) At first, it may be curious to see director Tim Burton, best known for visually inventive film, tackle a “simple” biographical film about an artist.  But that assessment ignores two things: first, how Burton is a dedicated real-life fan of Margaret Keane (to the point of having commissioned at least one painting from her); but also how the story of Keane, long denied credits for paintings due to her husband claiming that he was the true artist, would resonate so deeply with fellow visual-artist Burton.  So it is that despite the low-spectacle visuals of a realistic biography (albeit featuring an unexpected use of visual effects in a short oneiric scene), you can feel Burton engage with his subject and, in doing so, deliver one of his best films in years.  This being said, this isn’t necessarily a masterpiece: De-glammed Amy Adams is very good as Keane, but Christopher Waltz’s manic interpretation of her monstrously egomaniac husband often veers too close to cheap caricature thanks to a narrative firmly beholden to Margaret Keane’s point of view.  Despite the rightfulness of this viewpoint, the film seems to make too many cheap jabs and dilute its own effectiveness in doing so.  Still, the story works and so does the film in general.  The change of pace does Burton good, even though it may mean that Big Eyes doesn’t get half the attention that his other more genre-driven films do. 

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