March 4, 2015
"Big Eyes" was nominated under Comedy & Musical category during the last Golden Globe Awards. Lead actress Amy Adams even won the Best Actress prize for starring in it. While I was watching this film though, it turned out to be furthest from what I had in mind for a comedy. The topic of this film was actually disturbing and depressing. However, being a Tim Burton film, there was certainly dark humor to be had.
This film is a biopic of 1950s novelty pop artist Margaret Keane (formerly Ulbrich, nee Hawkins). She developed a series of haunting acrylic paintings of kids with big dark round eyes. Walter Keane, her rascal salesman of a husband, took advantage of the rising popularity of her paintings. He claimed and mass-marketed them as his own.
Meanwhile, timid Margaret was forced to conform to his web of lies. She was locked in her workroom in their home to paint even more Big Eyes, away from the prying eyes of the public, and even her own daughter. Will Margaret be able to break free from the prison she has trapped herself into?
Amy Adams quietly carried this film capably on her shoulders. There was nothing funny about what she had to do here as Margaret. Her character was the victim of a most cruel crime. Her husband stole not only her art, but also her confidence, and her very freedom. Adams played a weak character, but as an actress, Adams was anything but. With her wise underplaying, Adams successfully won our empathy and compassion for her difficult plight.
Christoph Waltz, on the other hand, was over-the-top, one-dimensional, practically cartoonish, as the manipulative con-man Walter. From his very first scene, you already knew this smooth-talking guy was up to no good. Up to his very last scene in that courtroom, Waltz's Walter was a manic caricature, never really coming across as a real person at all. This may well Tim Burton's direction in play, as this character Walter was the source of most of this film's black humor. Waltz's fiery interaction with Terence Stamp's harsh NY Times art critic character is most memorable as well.
This film's narrative was simple and straightforward. Yet because of Amy Adams' riveting and heart-rending performance, we will be held until the compelling end. The technical aspects of the film, particularly the pastel color palette of the photography, as well as the period production design, costumes and makeup, all contribute to the overall charming look and nostalgic feel of the film as a whole. 7/10.