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Big Eyes

Directed by Tim Burton

USA, 2014

Cornerhouse, 2 January 2015

Big Eyes

There is much more sunlight here than you would expect to see in a Tim Burton film and farce is the dominant register, but naturally there are shadows as well.

Actually, these Californian days begin to seem treacherous after a while, which was no doubt Burton’s intent.  Each sunlit idyll dark and dangerous, every laugh at once a howl of anguish .

It is the story of Margaret Keane, an artist who painted children with big eyes – black and bruised, terrible damaged – and the husband who took credit for her work.  She went along with the deception for a while.  An interesting story, well-nigh perfectly told.  Amy Adams is excellent as Margaret, but it is Christoph Waltz (he plays the husband) who delivers the performance of his career.  It deserves to win an Oscar, no doubt.

Terence Stamp and Danny Huston have minor roles but show their class all the same.  Huston’s portrayal of a newspaper columnist pays homage (very likely) to Burt Lancaster in Sweet Smell of Success.

So why did Margaret Keane paint children with big eyes?  We don’t actually learn, though it’s interesting that she was a contemporary of Gottfried Helnwein.

Tim Burton’s film is a work of art.

Margaret Keane’s art can be viewed here.