Perhaps Tim Burton had “big eyes” when he embarked on directing his new film Big Eyes. The material is classic Burton and this was his chance to make a film about one of the biggest art scandals in history even more zany than the actual story. He didn’t succeed and the result is a movie that’s not bad, just uninspired.
Christoph Waltz plays quintessential con-man Walter Keane. Walter, having no artistic talent, takes credit as the kitschy painter of the big-eyed waifs which became famous in the 1960’s. What he lacks in artistic talent, he makes up in marketing genius by getting rich from the work which was actually painted by his wife, Margaret. As he gets richer, he gets nastier. When Margaret finally has enough she “quits”, moves to Hawaii with her daughter and sues her husband hoping to gain the recognition she feels she deserves..
Waltz’s performance was so over-the-top that he eclipses everything and everyone else in the movie (but in all fairness, I understand the real Walter was even more nuts). Amy Adams performance as Margaret is lackluster. She is a woman bullied into submission by her husband yet in this film she comes off as just mousy and compliant. Burton took a chance but missed making this macabre story into something even crazier and instead ends up with a small picture. LAR
Running time: 105 minutes