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Big Eyes (I) (2014)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  25 December 2014 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 42,067 users   Metascore: 62/100
Reviews: 132 user | 311 critic | 40 from

A drama about the awakening of the 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.


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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 16 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Canaday
Enrico Banducci
Dino Olivetti
Olivetti Girl
2nd Olivetti Girl (as Emily Bruhn)
Brent Chapman ...
Factory Boss


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 Anne Campbell

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A true story about art and the art of deception. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

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Release Date:

25 December 2014 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Big Eyes: Retrato de una mentira  »

Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$2,610,026 (USA) (2 January 2015)


$14,479,776 (USA) (20 March 2015)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the 1990s Tim Burton, a Keane artwork collector and later director of the film Big Eyes (about Keane), commissioned the artist to paint a portrait of his then-girlfriend Lisa Marie. See more »


Margaret's daughter Jane rides in the back seat of the car. What kid in the 50's and 60's would ride in the back seat when there was a perfectly good front seat available? It is only the modern nanny state that recommends children ride in the back seat "for their safety". See more »


Margaret Keane: Espresso? Is that like reefer?
See more »


Referenced in Nostalgia Critic: Alice in Wonderland (2014) See more »


In My Room
Written by Brian Wilson and Gary Usher
Performed by Julian Coryell and Storm Gardner
See more »

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User Reviews

touching drama
1 January 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Tim Burton's touching dramatization of the relationship of Margaret and Walter Keane almost works but somehow the dramatic arc seems arbitrary and we must accept the developments in their story as much from what the characters announce about themselves as from what we see enacted emotionally. Essentially, the husband is what we might call a pathological liar and the wife is one of the most gullible and trusting people who ever lived.

The shy, self-effacing art school graduate Margaret Ulbrich specialized in painting portraits of children with big, sad eyes which she would sell at street fairs for pocket change. When she walked out on her husband in 1958 to make a new life for herself and her daughter in San Francisco, she met and married the aggressive Walter Keane, a real estate broker who pretended to be a Sunday painter but was actually a plagiarist with marketing skills who took over the marketing of Margaret's works and sold them under his own name, first on canvas and then as mass produced posters, becoming a well-known purveyor of mid-20th-century kitsch who, as his character claims in the film, inspired Andy Warhol.

Amy Adams is appropriately choked up and tremulous as Margaret but Christoph Waltz is an odd choice for Walter. For starters, the character is as American as the Great Plains but Waltz cannot entirely obliterate his Austrian accent; it colors his every utterance. Then, his theatrical mannerisms make him seem more like someone with Multiple Personality Disorder than a mere Jekyll-and-Hyde, as his wife describes him at one point. Waltz entertains us, and we are conscious that we are seeing a bravura performance, but we are not getting the human being named Walter Keane.

Burton makes very good use of the singularly appealing Terence Stamp as John Canaday, a highbrow New York Times art critic who lambasts the Keane oeuvre in print, leading to a confrontation at a cocktail party – a fire and ice moment and a high point of the film.

The film leaves a touching, but light impression, much like the big-eyed paintings at its center.

27 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Great movie Resifan009
Why does Margaret's daughter sit in the back seat of the car? deandinopoulos
Golden Globes - Big Eyes and Birdman are comedies? homeimp
I know no one will agree, but i don't... graulaw
I just went to a screening--it was great! domdisla
Did anyone else _notice_ the digital effects of "old" San Francisco? Jayce
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