Enough is enough. No more easy passes for filmmakers who succeed in finding a fascinating real life story. Well done on the research and contract signing and all that, but the thing is, we’d also like you to deliver a good film.
For it would be easy to recommend Big Eyes based on its extraordinary tale alone. In the 1950s and 60s Margaret Keane’s paintings featuring big eyed girls became famous. They defied old school sensibilities but appealed to the new pop art world. To pacify some conservatives, her husband Walter claimed to be the artist – and she let him – losing her identity in the process. This is her story.
It’s a brilliant tale. But this is far from a brilliant film.
Tim Burton takes the helm in a surprising departure from his trademark style of fantastical tales, and it seems it was a step far too far. Shorn of his own madcap visual styling, his storytelling is left to stand naked and far too exposed for its faults.
Amy Adams plays Margaret Keane and does admirably to drag a character out of a script that casts its hero as a perpetually helpless victim. Her film is a tragedy. Meanwhile Christoph Waltz has been cast in an entirely different movie, playing some bizarre PT Barnum-turned-psycho clown in a bizarre comedy.
The result is a mess that careens from beat to beat never settling on a style, a rhythm or a genre. So yes, Margaret Keane’s is an amazing story. Look it up. Then look up another film – any other film – on at the cinema this week.
‘Big Eyes’ Movie Times