Review: 'Big Eyes' will entertain and engage you

image

Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) watches Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) paint her masterpiece. (Golden Village Pictures)

Marcus Goh is a former Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 106 minutes (~1.75 hours)

"Big Eyes" is a dramatic retelling of the life of artist Margaret Keane and her marriage (and subsequent divorce) to husband Walter Keane. It stars Amy Adams (Margaret Keane), Christoph Waltz (Walter Keane), and Terence Stamp (John Canaday).

"Big Eyes" might be a drama, but it also has elements of comedy and has a lighthearted sense of fun to it. It never takes itself too seriously, allowing the cast to portray the characters as larger-than-life people dealing with an over-the-top situation. That’s not to say it descends into slapstick, but rather, it’s a tongue-in-cheek tone that pervades the film.

image

Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz). (Golden Village Pictures)

Highlights

Christoph Waltz gives an amusing performance as Walter Keane

Although Walter Keane is more of a caricature than an actual character, Christoph Waltz still manages to still make him a likeable, if insane, character. Walter Keane is definitely the antagonist in this film, yet you’re still rooting for him to win. From his own warped perspective, he is the hero, and that’s what comes across to the audience — that this crazy con artist really and truly believes he’s the victim.

A shy but strong Margaret Keane

On the opposite side of the spectrum we have Amy Adams as Margaret Keane. She portrays the growth and development of Margaret well — from a shy, uncertain woman to a strong, confident, but still soft-spoken artist who stands up for herself. It’s this unique mix of vulnerability and daring that makes Margaret an equally interesting character to watch as her husband.

Well-paced and engaging

It’s not an action film, and neither are the dramatic beats that surprising, but “Big Eyes” manages to capture your attention and hold it all the way to the very end. The stellar performances of the two leads play a huge part in this, creating a riveting movie that entertains from start to finish.

Evocative visuals

Of course, this being a movie about paintings, the visuals have to be rich and inspiring. The paintings aren’t the only interesting visuals here — the 60s set brings out the more innocent, straightforward feel of that era. It builds an environment where something so fantastical could believably have happened. This is not a story that could or would have taken place in the modern era but something that could only have taken place in that time period.

image

Margaret Keane (Amy Adams). (Golden Village Pictures)

Letdowns

Amy Adam’s wig in the opening

It’s a minor quibble, but the opening scene has Margaret Keane flouncing around in an incredibly artificial wig. You can’t take your eyes off its floppy, bouncing curls. And it is rather obvious it’s a wig. It’s a queer way to open the movie, with your protagonist wearing a huge fake wig.

The love story is rushed

It’s understandable that the romance of Margaret and Walter is only a small segment of the film, since the bulk of it deals with their marriage. Yet it feels rushed and forced, an unbelievable romance that’s depicted for the sake of showing something. It might have been better to have just omitted this portion.

image

Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) argues with Margaret Keane (Amy Adams). (Golden Village Pictures)

"Big Eyes" has very few flaws, and is possibly one of the most interesting offerings of 2015 yet. Buoyed by strong performances and an intriguing premise, this film is an engaging and entertaining experience.

Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? Yes.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Yes.

"Big Eyes" opens in cinemas 29 January, 2015 (Thursday).