Film Review: Big Eyes

Big Eyes

Tim Burton’s long-awaited return to form Big Eyes is an engaging story which offers strong performances from its leads.

Margaret is an artist and a single mother in the 1950s. She paints portraits, giving her subjects strikingly large eyes. When a fellow artist enters her life, she finds success at a price…

Tim Burton offers something viewers have not seen from him in the last decade. Big Eyes focuses heavily on character and story, and features a cast that the director has not previously worked with. The result is a film holds the attention, and feels refreshing in the scope of the filmmaker’s recent work.

Big Eyes‘ narrative is constructed effectively; the film never seems overlong. It is a character driven piece, with focus given to the two central characters and the way in which their relationship develops. Both the characters and the changing relationship are believable.

Big Eyes is a drama, but it is not without moments of comedy. Burton does well to maintain a sober air in the moments that matter. Despite some passionate scenes, the Big Eyes never becomes melodramatic, and is a better film for this. The script is well crafted to illustrate the highs and lows of the central relationship, and it does this with drama, humour and sincerity.

Cinematography in Big Eyes makes the most of the film’s locations. Art direction also works well, with the period setting rendered seemingly authentic. Colleen Atwood’s costumes are as delicious as ever. Big Eyes‘ score is also great, exhibiting the range of composer Danny Elfman even when working with his most recognised collaborator. Amy Adams is expressive in a way that mirrors Margaret Keane’s work. Her performance is solid throughout. Christoph Waltz delivers another powerhouse performance, believable in his character’s charm and menace.

Big Eyes tells the story behind the well-known images. Hopefully the director’s next projects will run in a similar vein.