Director Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) has done a movie based on a true story once before, that was the fantastic Ed Wood, so I was interested to see another one. Basically in 1958, Margaret Ulbrich (Golden Globe winning, and BAFTA nominated Amy Adams) is supporting her daughter Jane (Delaney Raye) alone in North Beach, San Francisco, after leaving her husband, she gets a job at a factory, painting illustrations onto furniture. At an outdoor art show, while painting portraits, Margaret meets Walter Keane (Golden Globe nominated Christoph Waltz), who is selling his Parisian street scene painting, Walter later proposes to her and they marry. Walter goes to a popular jazz club and convinces the owner, Enrico Banducci (Jon Polito), to let him rent a wall to display the couple's paintings on. A drunk woman is touched by one of Margaret's paintings and buys it, Walter has a fight with Banducci and ends up on the front page of the local newspaper, the club is next packed with curious people. Celebrity gossip columnist Dick Nolan (Danny Huston, also the narrator) wants to know about Walter's art, but is only interested in Margaret's paintings, especially those of subjects with big eyes. Walter shows Margaret all the money they have made from sales, he tells her they make a great team, saying she can stay home painting and he will sell her works. Walter opens his own Keane gallery, promoting the art as his own, selling reproductions, but Margaret is upset he is taking credit for her art, and feels guilty lying to Jane about it. Margaret decides to paint in a different style with elongated features and small eyes, so that she can honestly tell people she is also a painter. Margaret and Walter move into a new mansion together, while going through a crate containing stacks of Parisian street scenes, but she they are signed by another name, she realises Walter paints over the original artist's names and claims them as his own. Margaret confronts Walter about her discovery, he tells her he always wanted to be an artist, but never had the talent. Walter learns of the New York World's Fair and demands Margaret paint something to put on display, when she refuses he threatens to kill her. Older Jane (Madeleine Arthur) discovers her mother working on the large artwork, she tells her mother that she always knew she was the true artist. At a party, Walter is angered after reading the scathing review of the exhibit by John Canaday (Terence Stamp), back at home he drunkenly throws lit matches at Margaret and Jane, they manage to get out after he almost sets the house on fire, they run away. A year later, Margaret and Jane have settled in Honolulu, Hawaii, but Walter tracks her down, he refuses to agree a divorce unless she signs over the rights to every painting and produces 100 more. Margaret agrees and continues sending paintings to California, but then following a visit from two Jehovah's Witnesses, she is convinced that honesty is important, so the next delivery, Walter receives paintings signed "MDH Keane". On a Hawaiian radio show, Margaret reveals she is the real artist behind the big eyes paintings attributed to Walter, this makes national news, Nolan writes an article claiming she has "gone nuts". Margaret sues both Walter and the newspapers that printed his version of the story for libel and slander, the case is taken to a courthouse in Honolulu, with reporters swarming. The Judge (James Saito) immediately dismisses the libel lawsuit against the newspapers, but Walter is left to defend himself against slander, even cross-examining himself as a "witness". As Walter is wasting so much time with his tall tales, the judge decides there is only one way to determine who is the true artist of the big eyes works, both Margaret and Walter are given one hour to paint an artwork. Margaret paints steadily, but Walter is hesitant, claiming that an arm injury has made it hard for him to hold a brush, Margaret completes her painting in 53 minutes and wins the lawsuit, outside she tells the press she doesn't care about the money, she just wants credit for her paintings, she is happy finally signing an autograph for her own work. The end credits claim that Walter continued with his claim that he was the true artist, but never painted again, and died bitter and penniless, while Margaret later retired and opened an Art Gallery. Also starring Breaking Bad's Krysten Ritter as Dee-Ann, Jason Schwartzman as Ruben and the real Margaret Keane as Old Lady at Park. Adams gives a great delicate performance as the manipulated but eventually justified painter, Waltz is wonderfully exuberant as the conman husband, Burton directs this with a real flair, and you can recognise his style with the use of bright colours and a cartoonish look, it is a very interesting fact-based story of plagiarism, fraud and female subjugation, you don't have to necessarily be an art lover to appreciate it, a fascinating and worthwhile biographical drama. It was nominated the BAFTA for Best Production Design, and it was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Original Song for the title song by Lana Del Rey. Good!
Loosely based on a "real" story, the plot is about Margaret, a divorced mother and the painter of kitsch big-eyed children, reproduced on countless every-day items that infested the markets some decades ago. For many years Margaret allowed her second husband, Walter Keane, to claim authorship for her work, while she churned out one canvas after the other and lied to everybody.I am not a Burton's fan and I watched this at home, because it did not seem worth of a cinema outing. I also find those kiddies'paintings very kitsch and did not care much about the author, therefore my expectations were low. Turns out, not low enough.Amy Adams is a good actress, but even she cannot make a sympathetic character out of a woman who - allegedly - lied to her own daughter for years and secretly painted hundreds of canvas of creepy kids to please her hubby. How did she do that? Apparently Margaret's studio was a locked room and her daughter did not found that weird
.Christoph Waltz is unfortunately in full sociopath-Hans Landa mood, therefore unbearable. I never liked him much and I positively detested this interpretation. The courtroom scene is hard to bear. It was not Johnny Depp playing weirdo yet again in a Burton movie, but that did not improve the plot.I am not sure what would constitute a spoiler for this, since the plot is so bad and the movie irrelevant. However, I will not disclose the "surprise ending", even if you can find out what happened with a simple search.
Tim Burton's work usually sparks a divisive feeling amongst fans, but it's not often I feel so torn about one of his films. On one hand it's an extraordinary story which I'm glad was told on the big screen, but I don't know that Burton was the right man for the job.Margaret Keane is truly one of the most treasured artists of the last century. Her work with the 'Big Eyes' paintings are immensely popular, but it wasn't always her who took the credit. Her husband, Walter Keane, played by Christoph Waltz, claimed to be the artist behind the big eyes for a decade. This secret damaged Margaret's relationship with her daughter and her friends, and it's the basis for Burton's colorful film.The problem is that this film is trying to literally and metaphorically paint too many pictures. The tone is all over the place. It's a biographical film by nature, a comedy or musical according the golden globes, and even a horror film in one stupendously ridiculous scene. Okay, the last two are a far reach for several reasons, but Burton never really manages to nail down exactly how he wishes to tell the story. And that's unfortunate, because it's a fascinating one.With that said, Amy Adams is one of the few bright spots here. Not like that's surprisingly, considering she's been nominated for an Oscar 5 times, but it's worth mentioning. As she has done so many times, balancing strength and vulnerability is one of her finest attributes as an actress, and that's on display here. She's just so dang likable.Perhaps, that's also because Waltz is so far out of place here. It honestly feels like Burton asked him to bring his brilliant portrayal of Hans Landa into a PG-13 biographical drama. I don't know Walter Keane in real life, but I do know when an actor is acting in a completely different movie than the rest of his fellow actors. Whether it was Burton or Waltz's fault, the performance wasn't anything to ride home about.It's unfortunate just how awkward and tonally inconsistent Big Eyes feels, Margaret Keane and her work deserves a better film than this. I'm a huge fan of Burton's work, but this just wasn't the right project for him.+Amy Adams-Tonally all over the place-Waltz is out of control-Does disservice to an incredible story4.8/10