Sunday, April 12, 2015

Video review: "Big Eyes"

I’ve been hard on director Tim Burton for spending the last 15 years (mostly) cranking out soulless remakes of moldy intellectual property – “Alice in Wonderland,” “Planet of the Apes,” etc. He finally diverged to make “Big Eyes,” a low-budget original dramedy about an interesting historical curio.

The result was a funny/sad tale with some first-rate performances by Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. The film got lost in the holiday shuffle and overlooked by the Academy Awards, but I urge you to give it another look on video.

It’s the true story of Margaret Keane (Adams), an artist whose paintings featuring waifs with enormous eyes became a huge commercial hit in the 1950s and ‘60s, appearing in ubiquitous reprints all over the country. Except it was her husband, a magnetic huckster named Walter (Waltz), who claimed credit for the work. He was a more established artist and better at selling himself.

Plus he convinced her that her paintings wouldn’t be taken seriously if people thought they were created by a woman. (Sadly, he was probably right, which doesn’t make his deception and bullying any more palatable.)

The story (screenplay by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski) is about the rise and fall of their relationship, culminating in a real-life court battle in which the estranged spouses engaged in a paint-off before a judge.

Adams is sensitive and endearing as a weak-willed person who eventually finds her own inner voice. And Waltz is delightful as the charismatic, conniving Walter.

Sometimes it’s best to paint outside the lines.

Video extras are pretty disappointing. The DVD comes with a standard making-of featurette, and the blu-ray adds Q&A highlights with cast and crew.



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