Big Eyes

Directed By: Tim Burton

Starring: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Danny Huston, Jon Polito, Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, and Terence Stamp

I've said it a couple of times already, but I feel compelled to say it again.  This Christmas at the box office has sucked.  Where have all the good movies gone?  Normally, there are a couple of movies that alter my choices on the year's best films at the last minute.  Normally, there are potential awards season powerhouses arriving right about now.  There's nothing of the sort this year.  There's no The Wolf of Wall Street, Django Unchained, or War Horse storming into theaters this week.  It's a really sad time at the box office.  Just take a look at this week's Big Eyes for further proof.

Journalist Dick Nolan (Danny Huston) has a story to tell.  It all begins with Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) when she does what's not fashionable at the time by leaving her husband and taking her daughter Jane (Delaney Raye - Young & Madeleine Arthur - Older) with her.  Soon thereafter, she meets a man by the name of Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) while working at a fair sketching pictures of attendees.  Romance ensues.  When Margaret's first husband files for custody of Jane, Walter proposes to her.  Against the recommendation of her friend DeAnn (Krysten Ritter), Margaret accepts and gets married rather quickly.

Margaret and Walter connect over painting.  For her own pleasure, Margaret frequently paints portraits of little girls with big eyes.  An aspiring artist, Walter frequently tries to sell his work to various galleries.  This has not been going terribly well.  He reaches out to club owner Enrico Banducci (Jon Polito) to rent some space at his venue.  Putting up works from himself and Margaret, he finds that Margaret's work sells.  Taking claim for her work as the artist “Keane”, Walter begins building an art empire.  There's just one problem.  Art experts such as Ruben (Jason Schwartzman) and John (Terence Stamp) do not support him.

Having made Frankenweenie and Dark Shadows most recently, Tim Burton takes a step in a different direction with his latest film Big Eyes.  Even in a period piece set in the 1950s, Burton's penchant for unique visuals comes to the forefront.  While his art drama reintroduces the world to an interesting bit of history, it tells a selective bit of it to create this image of a woman finding the strength to stand up to her tormenter all on her own.  Based on her marital history, I’m not certain that this is exactly the case.  Moreover, the film is a bit too docile for my taste at times.

While the film is just decent, it does feature some solid performances from all involved.  For her part as Margaret Keane, Amy Adams returns to a more passive role on the big screen.  She's not the take-charge woman we've seen in films like The Fighter, The Master, and American Hustle over the last several years.  She does a decent job in giving us this weak-willed woman who is victimized to the point that she must find her backbone.  For his part as Walter Keane, Christoph Waltz initially gives us this cheery guy with an air of fictitiousness about him.  As the film progresses, he peels the layers back and shows the raging, deceitful monster within.  As this wild bully, he's highly entertaining.

I won't go shouting to the mountaintops about Big Eyes, but I will say that it's a decent drama from Tim Burton that's solid entertainment on a quiet afternoon.  It's nothing more and nothing less.  Big Eyes gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a few glasses of White Zinfandel with this one.