2015 / Director. Tim Burton.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
"Lovely" would be an appropriate word to describe Tim Burton's new film BIG EYES. It tells the true story of artist Margaret Keane, whose work took the world by storm in the 1950's & 60s. Her quaint and expressionist paintings of children with big eyes became a pop culture phenomenon, making millions of dollars and generating an industry-like demand. The tragedy of it all was that her husband claimed the credit and assumed ownership. During an era when women were still widely suppressed, few people would question the true artistry of the work and for over a decade she slaved away under lock and key to produce thousands of original paintings while her husband reaped the spoils. I have heard a lot of people comment that BIG EYES is not a "typical" Tim Burton film and it bothers me that this would be their first mode of attack. Firstly I don't think that it is far removed from his previous work at all. In fact BIG EYES actually embodies a lot of style and techniques that he has already played with in films like PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, ED WOOD and BIG FISH. He has captured the 1950's era beautifully, as he did in those aforementioned films. As a timepiece it never feels forced or hammy and I suppose the point of comparison most of those critics are making is that it lacks fantasy. That is true but he has managed to put his Burton-touch on a few appropriate moments that reflect the art within the context of the story. To Burton's credit he has held back on his trademark quirkiness and allowed the eccentricities of Keane's art to elevate the story on its own. The film is perfectly cast with Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz giving wonderful performances. Waltz is as charismatic as ever, albeit slightly too feigned. There are also a few nice support roles that more or less amount to cameos from people such as Jason Schwartzman, Danny Huston and Terence Stamp. The final act of the film does become rather farcical as certain characters descent into madness and while the performances are great, the storyline suffers. It's not a huge beef to bare because such events did unfold in real life and the resolution is predictably satisfying. Its great to see Tim Burton step away from the gloss of big-budget Hollywood fare and make something that reminds us that he is still creatively relevant and able to surprise. BIG EYES feels personal and I have no doubt that Keane's art has influenced him greatly over the years. He has told her story respectfully and its a lovely film.