Big Eyes (9/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 104 minutes.
OK for children.
One of the reasons I enjoyed this film is that I knew nothing about the
story. Had I known the story, it probably wouldn’t have been so
enjoyable. It’s not possible to write a review of this without filling
it with spoilers. So my recommendation is, if you don’t know the story,
stop reading here and go see the movie because it is very well done.
Based on a true story of the woman who created the Big Eyes paintings
that became so popular in the mid-20th Century, Margaret
Keane (Amy Adams) and her husband, Walter (Christoph Waltz), director
Tim Burton has produced a mesmerizing story of an exploited wife from a
good script with credits to Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.
Burton does a terrific job of recreating the world of the 50s and 60s in
which these events occurred.
Adams is simply superb. She insisted on getting to know Margaret
somewhat before tackling the role and spent time with her, talking with
her and watching her paint.
I’ve never known Waltz to give a bad performance, but I came out of the
film dissatisfied with his performance. Then I read the production notes
and discovered the possible reason. Unlike Adams, Waltz eschewed knowing
anything about Walter. He says, “I stayed away from everything that
might resemble a real life in reference to Margaret and Walter and this
whole thing because what am I supposed to do with it? I’m not making a
documentary, I’m playing a part and I think drama has a different
purpose in our lives and our society.”
That ignorance about Walter shines through his performance and it
explains why Waltz’s representation of Walter didn’t ring true for me.
Walter was a liar and exploiter, but he was also a marketing genius,
making millions of dollars for Margaret and him, and becoming a
household name. Forget the art and deception, that takes a certain
But this is really the story of Margaret and the way she was treated by
Walter. Adams gives a spot on, Oscar®-worthy performance that grabs you
and won’t let go. She’s as good here as she’s ever been.