Big Eyes is the true story of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), a single mum living in the 50s. Her job is barely giving her enough money to support her child, let-alone herself. When trying to sell paintings one morning, she's approached by a painter named Walter (Christoph Waltz), who sympathises with her lack of sales. The two hang out and bestow and behold, they get married. When selling his wife's paintings, Walter is mistaken for the artist. This inspires him to take credit for Margaret's paintings, claiming that nobody buys art painted by a woman. This fraud leads to 10 years of frustration and emotional distress for Margaret, who is being threatened into keeping this a secret.
Big Eyes is directed by Tim Burton, and we're all aware of his recent run of films. Not a lot of his recent films have been that well received, to say the least. They made billions at the box-office, but the reactions were nearly entirely negative. I, myself, don't hate all of his recent films; I think Dark Shadows is a lot of fun, but I can understand the negativity. Then Big Eyes came along, and it seemed that Tim Burton was finally making a good film again. A film that could proudly stand alongside Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood. I wouldn't go that far. I would, however, describe it as being a pleasant refreshment to the world of talking caterpillars and pale, CGI Johnny Depp.
Let's start by discussing Tim Burton, since I'm already on the topic. The story presented here in Big Eyes is the last thing I would imagine Tim Burton doing, but hey, he did it so what do I know? But how is he? For a man who said he wouldn't know a good script if it hit him in the face, he does a good job. He doesn't take any risks in his approach to telling the story, unless not casting Johnny Depp counts as a risk, and he still manages to put in some Burton-esque sequences, but given the material, he does a solid job.
Then there's the cast, and they truly carry this movie. The two stars, Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams, are phenomenal. While neither of them give a career defining performance or anything along those lines, this is far from their worst film. The two are excellent. You can really feel Adams' vulnerability as she attempts to rationalise why she's letting her husband take credit for all she has in life, all while Waltz does his thing as a manipulative, yet occasionally charming douchebag.
But the supporting cast surely can't go without a mention, can they? I mean, there's the always loveable Jason Schwartzman, Danny Huston and Krysten Ritter, all of whom get forgotten at one point or another in the film. Oh, alright. I guess one of them was worth a mention. That would be Jason Scwartzman by the way. Yeah, he's good. Yeah. That's all. Alright. I guess that's all on that then. Now, the problems I had with the film.
Well, the biggest problem with Big Eyes lies in the script. Not with the characters or the dialogue or the fact that it spans over 10 years (because the film does actually manage to do a decent job at all 3 of those things). No. Big Eyes is simply a formulaic, predictable, by the numbers biopic that follows almost every convention a biopic could follow. It doesn't take any big leaps or try to do something new. They take a basic approach to this story and while the final product is actually pretty damn good, there's always a sense of 'hey, haven't I seen this somewhere before?'
To sum up, Big Eyes is a visually delightful and wonderfully acted biopic that truly lets Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams shine, even if the film itself doesn't take too many bold risks and follows down a conventional path.
3 1/2 Stars