I would like to think I have my finger on the pulse of the movie community, being pretty aware of when movies are coming out and what I need to see and when.
But I feel like Big Eyes was grossly under advertised. We have people who have been nominated for Academy Awards in the lead and winners as well! Our female, nominated five times, and our male, nominated, I dunno, two? But he won both of them. And it is directed by Tim Burton WITHOUT Johnny Depp. This seems like something people would talk wildly about.
I mean. Shit. It won a Golden Globe or two (I really just don’t remember).
But instead we get it as a sort of limited/secret/whatever Christmas release, all while my TV was filled with ads for Unbroken.
SHIT THAT CAT IS ON DRUGS!
Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) left her husband before it was cool. She just up and divorced and left with her daughter (Delaney Raye or Madeleine Arthur, you know, depends on when during the movie). She wasn’t Margaret Keane at this point, but I don’t remember her maiden/first marriage name.
She left to become an artist, and started doing quick sketches of kids or families at festivals for super cheap just to get by. She couldn’t sell her work for a lot because people didn’t care for women artists.
Well, there she met a man. A Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) (psst, now you know they get married), who does mostly scenic landscape pictures from France. He is a skilled artist in his own right and really likes her work. Well, things get moving, and partially out of love of art and of each other (and a need to be secure financially or else she loses her daughter maybe), they get hitched!
They even sell work that they did. Well, Walter sells the work. He is a natural salesman, able to hype anything up. He accidentally claims that one of his wife’s paintings is his too! Because you know, he wanted to close the deal, and buyers always like to meet the artist. She isn’t a great seller herself. She hates this. Like. A lot. But goes along with it because it brings them money early on.
Oh and hey. Then he does it intentionally. And after they get to be super successful, he basically blackmails her into continuing along with it, taking no credit. Because hey, now they have committed fraud, and if she were to tell everyone, they’d lose everything. Sucks to be a sort of slave in your own home getting no credit.
Did I mention this is a true story?
And then, you know, also people like Jason Schwartzman, Danny Huston, and Krysten Ritter as Margaret’s best friend!
I think the main conflict in this picture is the war between big eyes and shifty eyes.
Big Eyes was such a quaint, nice feeling movie. I liked that it was set in the mid 1900s, but also, I wasn’t given some shitty filter over the whole thing so that I knew it was set in the past. No, it was just given nice regular camera work and the whole thing looked crisp. It wasn’t dark and broody, so it was something very un-Burton like, which was another nice surprise.
Another unexpected treat was Mr. Waltz. He didn’t have the same character as his Tarantino roles. And the only other role I can think of is Water for Elephants, which isn’t like this either. He was a villain, obviously, and a smooth talker, but a lot less stable than his past roles.
Amy Adams also did a solid job.
The thing is, this movie didn’t have enough plot for me. At one point it just felt like I was getting more of the same over and over again. She is still sad about her paintings and feels bad about lying. He still sucks and has schemes to keep her artwork being bought. On and on and on. The eventual court room scene was kind of fun. But still, I thought something was lacking throughout the whole film. Acting was fine, story wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped, but it was still a well shot and pretty movie.
I think Burton picked it accidentally. He saw the title Big Eyes and since he loves eyes so much, he assumed it would involve just giant floating eyeballs playing tricks on kids or something. Yeah, that makes sense in my head.
2 out of 4.