Forget about the big eyes and wonder instead at the even bigger size of Christoph Waltz’s overplayed performance in this disappointing true-life drama from Tim Burton, better known for the larger likes of Alice in Wonderland. Here Burton ditches his special-effects tool kit and Johnny Depp to tell the 1950s- and ’60s-set story of California painter Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), whose domineering, creepily charismatic second husband (Christoph Waltz) tricked a hungry art market into believing her kitschy paintings were actually by him. If you know the basics of the tale, there’s little more to gain from this shallow, gaudy retelling.
The gaudiness is apt, of course: Keane’s paintings were nightmare-cute monstrosities (“an infinity of kitsch,” says Terence Stamp’s art critic). And at first, the heightened colors and taste-free design of Big Eyes feels right, even fun. But these broad brushstrokes come at the expense of any real investigation into the sad marriage and deluded individuals at the heart of the story. Burton lets Waltz run wild, sucking the air out of every scene with his hysterics, and an always-endearing Amy Adams is left looking like a rabbit in headlights.
Cast and crew