Monthly archives "December 2014"

Big Eyes ****




Run Time: 106mins Cert: 12A


Synopsis: A drama about the painter Margaret Keane (Adams)and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, Walter (Waltz) who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.


Tim Burton returns to form with a dark and twisted true story that at times appears to be too unbelievable to be true, but apparently this is what happened to Margaret Keane the true painter of these unusual works of art.


Burton handles the movie delicately and with passion with material that brings him out of his comfort zone after directing so many gothic fantasy pictures for years. It also makes the first time since Planet of the Apes that he has not used the same cast which makes for a refreshing change.


The two main characters are on completely different ends of the scale. Amy Adams plays Margaret with timid innocence, while Christophe Waltz brings an outlandish and at times scary performance.  Walter is very much a Jekyll and Hyde character in that he can be  charming, then become something wicked within a short breath. At times he seems oblivious that he is even doing anything wrong, convincing us he believes what he tells Margaret. Is he a good man of questionable morals or was he always nothing more than a salesman? No one, not even Margaret, knows for sure. And there is also sympathy for Walter from the writers, who show understanding for a man who is jealous of his own wife for his own inadequacies and lack of inspiration as an artist. Both performers work well together with great screen chemistry.


A strong supporting cast also gives with Breaking Bad’s Krysten Ritter as Margaret’s kooky best friend, Delaney Raye  and Madeleine Arthur as her caring daughter Jane and Terence Stamp, as egotistical art critic John Canaday, a character who is very similar to Ratatouille’s food critic with his sarcastic wit and dire need to slate most things that he comes across. The only week links are Jason Schwartzman’s art dealer and Danny Huston’s tabloid gossip columnist, but this is only due to their characters being underwritten and unnecessary.


The auteur has reunited with his Ed Wood screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski who have a tendency to bring strange unconventional biopics to the big screen. While it is Margaret’s story they also give a balanced approach to the material.  It is thanks to the writers that they could have portrayed Walter has some crazy cartoonish monster, however they give him layers. He seems oblivious that he is even doing anything wrong, convincing us he believes what he tells Margaret, while also making the audience sympathise for Walter as he has become a man who is jealous of his own wife for his own inadequacies and lack artistic integrate. However as stated before there are a few characters that appear for no real useful purpose to the story. 


As everyone has come to expect the look of the picture is absolutely stunning. While the film does not have the familiar gothic overtones of his previous works, he does manage to put some very Burtonesque sequences within the piece. Danny Elfman’s score is enchanting as always with bewitching and beautiful new songs written by the eloquent Lana Del Ray.


The movie ends with the final courtroom proceedings which have to be seen to be believed, in which the Director just lets Waltz let rip for a truly zany performance. It may appear to be completely over the top but this is seemingly what happened to these real life people. A beautifully crafted and with powerful performances, Big Eyes may not be Burton’s best work but it certainly is entertaining.


Reviewed by Paul Logan