Big Eyes– Movie Review by Frank L.
Directed by Tim Burton
Writers: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
Stars: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter
In the late nineteen fifties, early sixties the world of art was invaded by a mass of reproductions of waif like young girls with large eyes out of proportion to their face. They become loved and sold in their thousands and could be seen throughout the world in hotel lobbies, bedrooms or anywhere a wall cried out for something to cover it. These images had emerged from California and behind their production was, so the world believed, the artist Walter Keane. Whatever his ability as an artist was, he certainly knew how to market a product. He was also driven by greed. However the person churning out the art was not Walter but his wife Margaret. She eventually insisted in being recognised in public as the artist so the bizarre tale ended up in a court room drama a la Perry Mason. Tim Burton chooses this story to create Big Eyes.
The movie starts with Margaret (Amy Adams) dashing around her sterile bungalow taking her paintings off the wall and shoving them and her only child, a daughter the muse for the paintings, into the family car in order to escape from her moribund marriage. She drives into the cookie alternative world of San Francisco where very soon she meets Walter (Christoph Waltz). He is a guy who lives on the commercial edge, he is a con man who has no difficulty in creating new stories about his past. Margaret is enchanted and rapidly hooked. Walter notes that there is interest in her big eye paintings. His patter helps to get her paintings sold. He then realises there is a demand not only for the paintings but for posters and reproductions of various shapes and sizes. There is money to be made. Burton cleverly demonstrates this phenomenon with great displays of the Big Eyes images stacked in supermarkets alongside the more familiar stacks of Brillo pads and washing powders. Money is changing hands. The commercial world of Andy Warhol and the Factory is not that distant.
Amy Adams gives a sterling performance as Margaret. She is on the rebound when she meets Walter and while she has her doubts she is swept along by his patter. She is vulnerable and she is cleverly encircled by him. However as their success increases, she becomes uncomfortable with the lies. Her transformation from gullible, innocent divorcee to a more pragmatic woman of the world is convincingly played. It is understandable that religion enters the fray, this being California, however she handles that phenomenon with aplomb too. Christoph Waltz also gives a fine performance as he creates the make believe character that is Walter. He believes his own marketing; it is understandable how he managed to make the big eye images the success that they were. In this well-crafted film, Tim Burton mixes the ingredients of greed, surplus cash and art of a type to perfection.
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