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article imageReview: ‘Big Eyes’ is a light-hearted exposé about a renowned artist Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Dec 24, 2014 in Entertainment
‘Big Eyes’ tells the unbelievable yet fascinating story of Margaret Keane, who was literally the woman behind the man as her husband claimed credit for her popular artwork.
Many people admire art as certain works draw their favour more than others. But few think about the story that may have accompanied that particular piece of work or of the artist who created it. Once given to the world, a piece is considered the sum of what the beholder makes of it. But sometimes the real story is far more interesting. Big Eyes is the exasperating true-life tale of one woman’s betrayal, complicity and eventual empowerment surrounding her artistic talents.
Though women’s independence was still somewhat of a novelty at the time, Margaret (Amy Adams) took her daughter and left her husband determined to strike out on her own and make a life for them. But being a single woman still had numerous drawbacks, so when Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) proposed after a brief courtship she couldn’t refuse. He supported her art and insisted their work be displayed together if shown at all. However when her big-eyed waifs attract more attention than his landscapes, his jealousy causes him to do something unforgivable — he takes credit for Margaret’s work. When she finds out she’s incensed, but Walter convinces her it’s for the best since he’s the better salesman. For years Margaret lived the lie, painting in hidden studios while Walter presented her work as his own — until finally she could lie no more.
While Margaret is undoubtedly the victim of her husband’s persuasion, the film does not try to conceal the fact that she played a significant role in maintaining the rouse. Though she would feel less comfortable with the arrangement as time went on and the popularity of her paintings grew, she went out of her way to ensure the truth remained a secret in the early days when it really mattered. When Margaret did finally sue Walter, her main advantage was that he was an egotistical, talentless fool.
The film depicts a pretty serious incident of fraud that induces a lot of eye-rolling and headshaking as Margaret repeatedly indulges Walter, ensuring he’s not found out as a fake; but it is also a fairly light feature filled with humour thanks to an exceptional performance by Waltz. His portrayal of Walter is inherently funny as he plays up his arrogance to sometimes hilarious proportions. The courtroom scene in which he elects to represent himself is quite uproarious and is unquestionably one of the best parts of the movie.
Adams is convincing as the artist and mother struggling with her life’s decisions, certainly holding her own when sharing the screen with Waltz. However his larger personality fittingly eclipses that of anyone else in the room. This is the first film director Tim Burton has made without casting Helena Bonham Carter or Johnny Depp since 1996’s Mars Attacks!, and it’s probably one of the best displays of his talents since Ed Wood.
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz and Krysten Ritter
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