BIG EYES (12A)
BIG EYES (12A)
Run time: 104mins
Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter, Danny Huston, Terence Stamp, Jason Schwartzman, Delaney Raye
Synopsis: Big Eyes is based on the true story of Walter Keane, who was one of the most successful artists of the 1950s and early 1960s. The truth would eventually be revealed: Keane’s art was actually not created by him at all, but by his wife, Margaret. The Keanes had been living a lie that had grown to gigantic proportions. Big Eyes centres on Margaret’s awakening as an artist, the phenomenal success of her paintings, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband, who was catapulted to international fame by taking credit for her work.
Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Alice in Wonderland) teams up again with scriptwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszszewski for this – his second biopic – a fascinating story about the emergence of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.
Amy Adams is superb as Margaret, striking the right balance of vulnerability and ethical ambivalence as she walks out of one marriage with her young daughter Jane (Delaney Raye) and almost immediately falls under the spell of Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz). Keane is a smooth talking part-time unsuccessful artist who soon sees potential in Margaret’s strange, kitsch paintings of girl waifs with huge eyes, which were about to become a massive popular hit in America. Keane soon had Margaret churning them out and persuaded her to allow him to take the credit on the basis that a woman artist would not sell.
At the height of the success of the Keane paintings Andy Warhol is quoted as saying: “I think what Walter Keane has done is just terrific. It has to be good. If it were bad, so many people wouldn’t like it”
Emotional and psychological abuse, women’s position in art and what is good art are all themes scrutinised in this story, where truth is stranger than any fiction.
With great ensemble acting – including Terence Stamp’s wonderfully acerbic art critic, Danny Huston as a journalist and Jason Schwarzman as a gallery owner – there is much to ponder in this bizarre story of how an art forgery unravelled.
Images courtesy of Entertainment Film