Delightful telling of a true story that feels made for the big screen
Watching the story of Margaret and Walter Keane unfold in Big Eyes it’s hard to believe that it all really happened. A team of Hollywood’s best screenwriters may not have been able to come up with a better plot. Margaret, a newly single mom, movies to San Francisco and tries to sell her art – unusual, surrealist portraits of children with abnormally large eyes – without much success. Then she catches the eye of fellow amateur artist Walter, who heaps her with praise and encourages her talent. They get married, and that’s when things start to get messy. Walter, trying t sell Margaret’s paintings, is assumed to be the artist who painted them – and he doesn’t correct people who make the mistake once the paintings start selling. Thus begins a decade-long deception that sees Walter become the charismatic king of an empire of “Big Eye” art, while Margaret, the real star, cranks out painting after painting in her dim home studio, and no one, not even her daughter, knows the truth. Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, as Margaret and Walter, are perfectly cast and share the chemistry of impressionable wit and charming yet self-centered husband. Adams never makes Margaret pathetic or dumb. You know she has it in her to get the justice she deserves. And Waltz’s Walter has just the right amount of used car salesman charm to make his at first happy marriage to Margaret believable and his ultimate demise sadly pathetic, not cartoony. The final courtroom scene is appropriately wacky and great fun to watch, directed with flair by Tim Burton. Big Eyes is a fine example of an incredible true story treated with care by a director and cast that know they need only portray the truth to produce a wildly entertaining film.