Big Eyes is a movie directed by Tim Burton that tells the story of Margaret Keane, an artist who's true talent was hidden behind the shadow of her husband for far too long. The film stars Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, Danny Huston, and Terence Stamp.
Peggy Doris Hawkins (Adams) decided to do something that was pretty much an unthinkable act for a woman in the 1950's. She left her husband for a new life with her daughter in tow. Struggling to find a job as a single mother was only made more difficult by her own demeanor which was seriously lacking in common social graces and they type of attributes one would need to make themselves a success. Walter Keane (Waltz), on the other hand, possessed these traits in spades and used them to his advantage at every turn. Of course, the two quickly fall in love, get married, and begin a new life together in the heart of San Francisco's art scene.
You see, Peggy, or Margaret as she now calls herself, is a very talented painter who would like to make a name for herself if she only had the will to do so. Instead, Walter, a struggling artist in his own right, decides he will show off Margaret's masterpieces to the world under his own name rather than hers. Thus begins a tale of deceit and dishonor that would alter the art world while causing international mayhem over a reckless get rich quick scheme that finds both husband and wife on a precarious ledge they are constantly in danger of falling off of.
Tim Burton is known for creating some truly amazing works of film, most of which are very highly stylized and truly unique works of art so it was strange to see him direct a movie about highly stylized and truly unique works of art in a very straightforward manner. Sure, there are hints of Burton's oddball touch but, for the most part, the film features a fairly linear and true to life narrative. I'm not saying this to knock the film, I actually like that he chose this path as it actually allows the absurdities of the story and characters to shine through even more than if he had gone the opposite direction. Places in a very real 1950's world, Margaret's art and Walter's personality are really set apart and you, as a viewer, can really see why this was such a crazy story to begin with.
While the story is solid and the direction is pretty straight forward, the real magic that happens in this movie is the interaction between two of Hollywood's brightest stars as Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams are each at the top of their game. They play off of each other really well as Waltz really shoots for the moon by giving Walter a larger than life persona while Adams perfectly portrays Margaret, in the beginning, as a timid young woman who can barely stand to be in a job interview let alone make any attempt to try and win the job. Still, the real beauty of her performance is seeing Margaret's transformation as the story unfolds and how she eventually learns to stand on her own and fight for what is hers. We also get strong, yet brief performances from Danny Huston, Terence Stamp, and Krysten Ritter each of whom could have used plenty more screen time although it would have been to the detriment of the story so, fair trade I suppose.
Ultimately, Big Eyes is the type of movie that is very entertaining in the moment although I feel like it doesn't pack nearly enough of a punch to create a long lasting impression like some of Burton's earlier films. This movie is sure to fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to ranking his overall body of work although it should still be considered one of this year's better releases when compared to what else has been put out there.