A drama about the awakening of painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.
In San Francisco in the 1950s, Margaret was a woman trying to make it on her own after leaving her husband with only her daughter and her paintings. She meets gregarious ladies' man and fellow painter Walter Keane in a park while she was struggling to make an impact with her drawings of children with big eyes. The two quickly become a pair with outgoing Walter selling their paintings and quiet Margaret holed up at home painting even more children with big eyes. But Walter's actually selling her paintings as his own. A clash of financial success and critical failure soon sends Margaret reeling in her life of lies. With Walter still living the high life, Margaret's going to have to try making it on her own again and re-claiming her name and her paintings. Written by
Sales of Margaret Keane paintings soared ahead of the release of the film. Small paintings sold for $8,500 a piece. Director Tim Burton owns an extensive collection of her work. In the 1990s, Burton commissioned Keane to paint a portrait of his then-girlfriend Lisa Marie. Keane has also painted portraits of Burton's partner Helena Bonham Carter, and Burton's late Chihuahua. See more »
When Margaret first appears in North Beach, a curb ramp is on the sidewalk at Bannam Place and Green Street. Curb ramps did not exist in 1950s San Francisco. See more »
Sweep the gutters before the taste police arrive.
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After various mediocre attempts (Dark Shadows, Alice in Wonderland, Sweeney Todd) to recover the visual magic which made him popular in the '80s and '90s, director Tim Burton came back to reality with his most recent film, Big Eyes. Well, that "return to reality" is very relative, because this film offers us a very "Burtonesque" version of the '60s, full of beautiful colors, magnificent cinematography and a gorgeous production design. I could write various paragraphs about the visual richness of Big Eyes, but I won't do it because I'm running out of positive adjectives, and I still have various negative ones to say. Unfortunately, the screenplay of Big Eyes isn't as captivating as the images. Co-screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski drive the story on a bland way, focusing on the most basic aspects of the "true events" (I suppose so... I'm not even interested in confirming them in Wikipedia), ignoring all the elements which would have made the film deep and substantial. For example: one of the reasons why Margaret Keane accepts to yield the credit of her paintings is the fact that nobody would take a female artist seriously. That simple fact could have initiated an interesting reflection about genre equality and the sexual policy of the '60s, just before the detonation of feminism... but that's completely abandoned. Alexander and Karaszewski also wasted the opportunity to examine the ridiculousness of artistic underworld, always searching new trends and techniques to make them fashionable, without caring about their genuine artistic value. The characters played by Jason Schwartzman and Terence Stamp comment a bit about that topic, but it's too brief, and both end up being relegated to "comic relief" and elitist villain, respectively. Another negative element of Big Eyes is that Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz don't have any chemistry with each other in the leading roles. They don't feel credible as husband and wife; they seem two strangers who work together. Even when their characters fight with each other, their performances feel cold and distant. In conclusion, Big Eyes is a well made film which offers various visual attributes; but I didn't find its screenplay very well raised, and the more dramatic they tried to make it, the more trivial it feels.
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