Big Eyes is a dramatization of the real life story of Walter and Margaret Keane in the early 1960s. I don’t have an opinion about Margaret Keane’s paintings and their value as art. But, boy, was she prolific. She cranked out lots of paintings, where I am lucky do finish three or four a year!
The story is a simple one: Margaret (Amy Adams) was recently divorced with a young daughter, trying to make a living in San Francisco as an artist in the 1950s, an age when women in business were not yet taken seriously. At an outdoor art show Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who exhibited his work next to her, charmed her sufficiently that within a few months they were married.
Walter was not much of an artist, but he was a master salesman and showman. Once he figured out he could sell his wife’s work by claiming it as his own, their fortunes started to improve. Soon he was a celebrity, and she was a prisoner in her own life. The lies and the fraud were so enormous, there seemed to be no way out.
The movie Big Eyes starts out a little slow in the beginning but picks up speed nicely. Margaret’s doom, gloom and suffering is clearly coming through Amy Adams’ acting. However, Waltz seems way over the top. It’s almost like watching a goofy cartoon character when he gets moving, particularly during the court scenes in the latter part of the film. I found his performance unreal and distracting from the pace and feeling of the rest of the movie. It was like having Jim Carrey do his cartoon stuff in a serious film. When I researched about Walter Keane later, I found that the real-life Margaret said that he was even more loony than Waltz portrayed him in the movie. Here is an article a lot of background information, including pictures of the real Keanes back in the 1960s.
Now back to painting…