Tim Burton has always had his ways of finding humour in all kinds of situations. His latest feature, Big Eyes, is no exception. No, this isn’t about how big one’s eyes can be. It’s about the eyes being the windows to the soul. Deep as it might sound, this romantic drama centered on the real life of painter Margaret Keane is as lively as can be.
Amy Adams plays the lead role of Margaret, pulling off a soft façade of a character through an inconsistent Southern accent, though largely indiscernible to the foreign ear. Capable of painting and nothing else, Margaret leaves her integrity vulnerable to cheats that aim to benefit from her work. Thankfully, she has her trusted friend DeAnn (Krysten Ritter), who does her best to look out for her, albeit discreetly. Ritter’s character may be adequate, but it does have room for much more development as her acting capabilities are not fully utilised.
Christoph Waltz plays Margaret’s husband – a good-for-nothing marketer. Seeing the commercial value and potential profits of Margaret’s paintings, he decides to marry her so she can continue making paintings for him… but with his signature at the bottom, so he can pass them off as his own. Given his penchant for playing malicious characters, Waltz appears most natural and comfortable as the deceiving Walter Keane.
Thankfully, Burton exercises his comedic flair in this flick – one that could have been a potentially dry biopic – by adding layers of subtle humour. Plot twists work as pleasant subversions that add drama to ongoing tensions. This device works marvellously towards the end, when Margaret and Keane attempt to settle their dispute legally.
The courtroom drama, while silly and clearly exaggerated, evokes some much-needed humour to disperse the tension. For example, one wouldn’t expect a judge of Asian descent to appear in a film like this. Hence, coming from Burton, anything can happen as he keeps things spiced up and alive as much as possible.
Adams’ performance remains consistent throughout, and you’ll find yourself rooting and feeling sympathetic for her. Ultimately, it is exactly this onscreen presence of hers that scored for Best Actress at the Golden Globes, which gives Big Eyes the strong push it needs to work as a film. With its many nominations during this awards season, Big Eyes has left many wide-eyed with its copius amounts of publicity and fanfare.
Big Eyes is now showing in theatres.
Directed by: Tim Burton
Genre: Biography, Drama
Running time: 106 minutes