Big Eyes

(M) Starring: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Danny Huston

Films made by award winning director Tim Burton are an eclectic bunch – some dark, some bizarre, some comic – but all so distinctly “Burton”.  Big Eyes is a story of deceit and manipulation in the fickle world of art, based on the true life story of artists Margaret and Walter Keane (played by Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz). The most contrasting difference with Burton’s usual work is Big Eyes is a fairly straight-laced depiction of an abusive and tyrannical marriage – worlds apart from the film-maker’s usual flamboyance.

Big Eyes, his latest production, does not disappoint.

Big Eyes recounts how Walter Keane was propelled to fame during the 1960s, known for paintings of waifs with enormous eyes (Tim Burton was a personal collector of these works).  looks into the artworks of Margaret Keane, who received widespread fame and fortune, however not under her name. Due to pressure from her husband, Walter, her artworks are fraudulently said to be his, onsetting a tension between the couple, their family and the entire art world.


Now Showing: Big Eyes from The Big Picture on Vimeo.


With her paintings, her daughter Jane (Delaney Raye), and a few personal belongings, we see Margaret drive away from a perfect home from a seemingly very imperfect marriage. As the car drives on to San Francisco, the scene is set to create a strong, independent protagonist, as the narrator and columnist Dick Noal (Danny Huston) reminds us that leaving behind a husband in the 1950s was not for the faint hearted. This feeling of hope for Margaret does not last long, as she is soon swept off her feet by a fellow artist Walter.

Walter’s seductive web. Gently pushed aside are initial feelings of suspicion. But as the Keane’s relationship descends into emotional abuse and manipulation, Walter steals all aspects of his wife’s life – her art, her freedom, her identity. Behind his abuse of Margaret is Walter’s own relentless pursuit of fame and wealth in the world of the artistic elite.

Adams’ powerful and subtle performance though, is the bedrock of Big Eyes. Although her portrayal of a nervous and quiet Margaret can at times leave you wanting to leap through the screen and shake her into action, it is Adam’s subtlety and emotion that allows you to feel a personal connection with her character. At times, just a simple look or a breath from Adams can leave you feeling personally vulnerable or uncomfortable.

In stark contrast, though, is Waltz’ over-the-top character of Walter. Burton’s juxtaposition of Walter and Margaret actually lets Big Eyes down somewhat because, at times, he allows Walter to overpower the story.

Big Eyes has a start-studded cast, world-renowned director and a storyline that you simply couldn’t make up. All of these elements come together well but the on-screen conclusion to this real story doesn’t feel like it provides quite enough relief.

The deep-seated agony and drawn-out emotional torture that Margaret experienced throughout her husband’s rise to fame, is followed by a quick resolution in the final 15 minutes of Big Eyes. This almost leaves you begging to see more of what then became of Margaret Keane.

What does the Bible say about the films themes?

  • What does the Bible say about deceit – Proverbs 6:16-19
  • What does the Bible say about theft and stealing – Matthew 7:12
  • Read more about the nature of marriage – Ephesians 5:28

Toya Gattas


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