Tim Burton's Big Eyes tells the true story of 1950's-60's artist Margaret Keane and her relationship with then-husband Walter in what was the director's first biopic since Ed Wood.
Though the film does explore Margaret's (Amy Adams) art, the focus here is on how Walter Keane's (Christoph Waltz) appropriation of his wife's work changed her life at a time when women had little say. After Margaret allows Walter to take all of the credit for her big-eyed creations, they become something of a sensation over the course of only a few years but the cost of giving up her artistic rights becomes too much for her.
While Big Eyes does tell Margaret Keane's story with heart and laughs, Burton himself seems to be mostly absent. There are a handful of admittedly “Burtonian” moments but one wishes that the director's voice could have been heard more. As it stands, pretty much anyone else could have made this movie the way it is.
That said, Big Eyes is definitely a well made film and is a touch better than most mainstream biopics out there, skillfully avoiding any pretentiousness, something that films about art tend to fail at. Amy Adams gives yet another brilliant performance while Christoph Waltz is endearingly over-the-top, if very nearly cartoonish, throughout. You can see why Margaret would fall for Walter’s charms but you can also see why she'd be scared of him and feel trapped.
Burton fans should not expect too much weirdness from this one but should give the film a go, if only to learn about Margaret Keane and her fascinating story. The leads are also well worth it. While not essential viewing, Big Eyes remains a tightly made film with some great moments.