Big Eyes review

>Big Eyes marks the first time in a long while where director Burton has not employed the services of either Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter. In casting Waltz and Adams as his lead couple, the director has perhaps given himself a new lease of life. His latest foray is a kitschy pleasure, kitschy in both its visual design and its vibrant performances.

It tells the true story of Walter and Margaret Keane – he the great salesman, she the secret painter of those popular "big eye" art works of the late '50s and ensuing decade. Walter passed off the work as his own, their fraud fooling the masses for much of the '60s as they accrued riches. But when their marriage soured, Margaret sought recognition for her work, culminating in a memorable court case.

Adams has the more difficult role here. Her Margaret is a woman strait-jacketed by the times she was living in. At first a single mother unable to express her creativity fully among the sexist males in San Francisco, she portrays the character's shyness and lack of confidence with wide eyed skill, slowly finding her voice and identity after her marriage as she seeks escape from her increasingly avaricious husband. Waltz pulls out the stops here to embody a charming monster, a desperate schemer with the gift of the gab to persuade all and sundry. Both actors paint their roles in broad strokes and an impish sense of humour. Their heightened reactions to each other are a joy to watch, the intense emotions expressed with a kind of subtle smirk out of the sides of their mouths and in their eyes.

The visuals have a bright, tacky sheen to them in keeping with the artworks depicted. Burton has a marvellous eye and he keeps the story crisply juggling along with sly wit and style. The climactic courtroom scene is particularly amusing. Big Eyes is one of Burton's strongest efforts, he and the subject matter have here coalesced perfectly. Warmly recommended, it is a thoroughly enjoyable escapade well worth your time.

Big Eyes at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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