Big Eyes Review
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Director Tim Burton is known for directing films that are out of the ordinary—the darker and more bizarre, the better—and that makes him a strange choice to helm Big Eyes, the biography of a ‘60s pop culture icon. But Burton’s eccentric sensibilities give the film its artistic appeal.

This colorful bio stars Amy Adams as Margaret Keane, whose iconic paintings of big-eyed children became wildly popular in the early ‘60s. Despite the overwhelming success of her artwork, however, Margaret remained out of the spotlight while her wheeling, dealing, smooth-talking husband, Walter (Christoph Waltz), marketed and promoted the paintings as his own. And as Walter took all the credit, schmoozing with celebrities and politicians, Margaret struggled to stand up for herself—to tell the truth about her work and receive the acclaim that she deserved.

  
 
I’ll be honest here: while I enjoy learning about real people and their true stories, I frequently find biopics lacking. They tend to be a little too long and a little too dry, often focusing more on creating the kind of forced drama that could attract award season recognition than on the parts of the story that are actually interesting. But Tim Burton has always been a free spirit—and that’s what makes Big Eyes more entertaining than the average biopic.

For the most part, though, Burton plays it surprisingly straight, telling Margaret’s story without wandering off into a lot of bizarre flashbacks or wacky dream sequences. This isn’t a wild and quirky tale; in fact, it’s quite laid-back. But Burton still gives the film his own artistic touches, from its eccentric period details to its vibrant, sometimes oversaturated, color palette. It’s a visually interesting film—often bold and whimsical, as a film about a popular artist of the ‘60s should be.

Adams also seems surprisingly low-key for the lead character in a Tim Burton film. Apart from her retro style, there’s nothing particularly eccentric about her. She’s simply a devoted wife and mother who loves to paint. But Adams does an excellent job with the character’s transformation, gradually growing from a timid single mom with no self-confidence into a talented artist with her own quiet strength.

It’s Waltz, then, who really brings Burton’s signature wackiness to the film. He’s absolutely, flamboyantly over-the-top as the incurable schmoozer whose desperation leads to deception—which, in turn, makes him increasingly obsessive. Waltz is perfect for the role—able to portray the character’s false charm in a way that’s both unsettling and hilarious. And just as Walter took credit for Margaret’s work, Christoph often steals the spotlight away from Amy’s starring role.

Big Eyes definitely isn’t the same old biopic—and it isn’t the kind of movie that audiences expect from Tim Burton. The director’s fans might be disappointed in its generally low-key style, but it’s still a fascinating story made all the more interesting by a few of Burton’s creative touches.


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