Movie Review: Tim Burton's Big Eyes + #BigEyes Screenplay

Big Eyes

Release Date: December 25th 2014
Director: Tim Burton
Writers: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
Main Cast: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter, Danny Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Terence Stamp
Genres: Biography | Drama
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong language

Official Sites: Web | Facebook | IMDb

From the whimsical mind of director Tim Burton, BIG EYES tells the outrageous true story of one of the most epic art frauds in history. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, painter Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) had reached success beyond belief, revolutionizing the commercialization of popular art with his enigmatic paintings of waifs with big eyes. The bizarre and shocking truth would eventually be discovered though: Walter’s works were actually not created by him at all, but by his wife Margaret (Amy Adams). The Keanes, it seemed, had been living a colossal lie that had fooled the entire world. A tale too incredible to be fiction, BIG EYES centers 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 while taking credit for her work.

Big Eyes is a biographical film based on the life and work of American artist Margaret Keane, whose work gained prominence between 1950 and 1960. Her art is best known for the over sized pancake eyes on the women and children in her paintings, hence the title of the film. The film captures Keane’s life during the years of her courtship, marriage and divorce from Walter Keane.

Big Eyes is an underdog story. The film starts with Keane as a single mother, desperate to find employment and caring for a daughter with her only skill being her art. But, that isn’t what makes Keane an underdog. She is an underdog because she lacks a voice in every place other than her paintings. She meets and falls in love with a man who has nothing but voice, setting the plot the film.

The film starts slow. It was frustrating to watch Keane repeatedly shoved into obscurity time and again. We want Keane to tell the truth, fight back, or take a stand and she doesn’t take a stand. Then we see how successful and financially rich Kean is becoming and we forget that she is oppressed. The we see she is sitting in a dark and smoky room again, and we remember, that’s right, she was supposed to have taken a stand by now and she hasn’t and we are frustrated again with Keane. I think the effect of interchanging with light with the dark in Keane’s world works well. It is believable. Her life wasn’t all bad; it just wasn’t perfect, and along the way, the audience gets a peek at the art world that we might not otherwise get.

The film is immensely interesting and entertaining. I appreciated what I was introduced to an American artist which I had not previously known existed and I appreciated how well the two characters were portrayed. Margaret Keane is played by Amy Adams. I enjoyed the softness that Adams brought to the role. As much as the audience is predisposed to root for the heroine, it is Walter Keane, played by Christoph Waltz who really shines. Walter Keane was shown to be sly and charming and hateful, but difficult to hate given that he was so sly and so charming. It was the give and take between these two characters that makes the film really enjoyable.

I recommend you look for this off the beaten path when it opens. Even if it isn’t something you would normally watch, Big Eyes is something worth broadening your horizons. You will not be disappointed.

Big Eyes
The Screenplay
Released: December 16th 2014
Publisher: Vintage Books

About the Book:
The full screenplay by award-winning Ed Wood writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski for acclaimed director Tim Burton's film Big Eyes, starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz.

A rare close-up look into a corner of the 1950s and '60s art world and a perfectly observed account of a dysfunctional marriage, Big Eyes tells the true story of Margaret Keane, an artist who lived and worked in virtual slavery while her husband, Walter, gained fame and fortune passing himself off as the creator of his wife's wildly popular paintings. The story of their toxic relationship would culminate in a Hawaiian courtroom, as Margaret ultimately fights to save her name and reclaim her art, during a heated public court battle.

This edition, illustrated with photos throughout, contains the complete screenplay, an afterword by the screenwriters, and an interview with Margaret Keane, the real-life subject of Big Eyes, by Tyler Stallings.

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