Posted on Friday, November 14th, 2014 by Germain Lussier
I’m sure I’m not the only one who kind of forgot there’s a new Tim Burton movie coming out this year. That movie is called Big Eyes, and it tells the true story of Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who becomes famous as a painter, for his images of people with big eyes. The truth of his life, however, is that his wife Margaret, played by Amy Adams, is the actual talent. He’s been stealing her credit.
With Burton, Waltz, Adams and a Christmas Day release date, Big Eyes sounds like a sure fire Oscar-contender. But no one knows for sure until that all important first screening, which took place Thursday night at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Did it work out? Read a bunch of early Big Eyes reviews below.
Here are some excerpts from Big Eyes reviews from several major publications. Click on each link to read the whole thing:
The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but they wind up revealing far too little in “Big Eyes,” an unpersuasive, paint-by-numbers account of the fraud perpetrated by Walter Keane, who succeeded in fooling the public and amassing a fortune by passing off his wife Margaret’s paintings as his own. Despite Amy Adams’ affecting performance as an artist and ’50s/’60s housewife complicit in her own captivity, this relatively straightforward dramatic outing for Tim Burton is too broadly conceived to penetrate the mystery at the heart of the Keanes’ unhappy marriage — the depiction of which is dominated by an outlandish, ogre-like turn from Christoph Waltz that increasingly seems to hold the movie hostage.
This nimble, bemused, culturally curious look at the married instigators of the kitschy “big eyes” paintings of the early 1960s exudes an enjoyably eccentric appeal while also painting a troubling picture of male dominance and female submissiveness a half-century ago. Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz both shine in a distinctive work that will require shrewd handling on the part of The Weinstein Co. to give it a bounce from the specialized realm to a wider public.
Can Tim Burton evolve? In recent years, Burton’s name has become as synonymous with self-plagiarism and creative bankruptcy as it has with black-and-white stripes and Johnny Depp‘s theatrical eyelash-batting. If the warm and gorgeous “Big Eyes,” his first live-action movie without Depp in more than a decade, is any indication, the answer is yes. The most human film from Burton since “Ed Wood,” this biopic of kitsch painter Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) marks a small but significant artistic growth.
A well-intentioned and resolutely minor period drama, “Big Eyes” isn’t exactly a catastrophe, but its bland depiction of a fascinating story perhaps better served by the documentary treatment shows no evidence of the visionary creator behind the camera.
Highlighted by two very different performances — Amy Adams’s muted, silently-suffering painter Margaret Keane and Christoph Waltz’s gregarious, master-manipulator husband Walter — Big Eyes is a crowd-pleaser that sees Burton toning down his usual visual flourishes, a development that’s most welcome.
The film’s most powerful moments generally involve Margaret discussing what her paintings mean to her. Burton understands her desire, ambition and, most interestingly, the response her work draws. Even though the filmmaker didn’t write the script, when there’s an exchange involving an uptight art critic played by Terence Stamp regarding style vs. kitsch, it appears Burton is both confronting and poking fun at the debate that so often surrounds his pictures. Big Eyes, however, is interested in anything but kitsch. There is plenty of eye candy in this vibrant period piece, but Burton serves up so much more.
This banal, awkwardly directed biopic of sorts was once thought to be an Oscar hopeful for Amy Adams, whose sublime talents are wasted by such malnourished material. The characters are paper-flat: Margaret lies helpless in the shadows of her monster of a husband as he apes the success that ought to be hers. He has done an evil thing, but the film seems indifferent to that evil.
Overall, reactions seems quite mixed on the film. Some raves, some hate, and lots of people with varying levels of admiration in between. Unfortunately, all this tells us is you’ll probably have to see it for yourself.
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