By Jack Hill
Based on a true story, Big Eyes tells the tale of Mrs. Margaret Keane (played by Amy Adams) and her striking, realistic paintings of people and their big eyes. Set in a time when abstract was in vogue, this was a remarkable happening, something the movie does very well highlighting.
The story, too, was compelling, guiding the audience through the harrowing tale of how Mrs. Keane leaves her abusive first husband in the dead of night with her young daughter to move to San Francisco. While there, she meets another artist, Mr. Walter Keane, played by Chrisoph Waltz. After a brief affair, the two fall in love and soon marry. But when Margaret’s paintings start to turn a profit, the greedy Walter turns her success into his own, claiming the paintings to be his. After the drama and ensuing legal battle, the audience is left with a good story, but nothing more.
The film was ably directed by Tim Burton, and the acting was adequate—nothing remarkable, but nothing bad. But while the writers were able to capture the story, they perhaps missed the drama. The characters are flat. Frankly, I left the theatre wondering why Margaret put up with Walter for so long and what made her finally snap. I still don’t have an answer. This is where the movie fails. It misses an opportunity for great characterization and truly developing the drama behind its fantastic story. There was one scene where Mrs. Keane was confronted by her daughter about her paintings, but the scene ends before anything truly remarkable happens. This happens throughout the movie, and the fact that it’s barely under two hours also makes me wonder why these fascinating characters weren’t developed. In the end, the movie’s story makes up for its bland and stilted drama, but Big Eyes leaves you seeking more.