Tim Burton proves once again that he is much, much better at directing more serious story and character focused dramas than he is at helming off-the-wall slices of his own rather repetitive imagination. This is probably his best film since ‘Big Fish’ (03) and it tells the true to life story of the Keanes, the husband and wife soon to become household names in 1950’s America as the ‘Big Eyes’ paintings take the art world by storm. Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz play the central couple and they are both a delight to watch here – in fact Adams has just netted herself a well deserved Golden Globe for her performance although an Oscar nomination was conspicuous by its absence, which she can feel legitimately miffed at.
Burton is himself a long time collector and admirer of the artwork, which no doubt goes some way to account for his dedication to the project and should hopefully ensure a largely truthful retelling of the tale, which explores what a marriage as a united entity can mean within a cultural background where the man was very much king of his castle, alongside Mrs Keane’s growing sense of self confidence and a determination to not be ruled by that same social convention and as such the story can easily be cited as anecdotal of feminist struggles and successes of the era. With a light and airy feel, it’s dramatically both fascinating and unfolds slowly but is never disappointing – bar moments where Burton simply can’t help regressing into his penchant for overindulgence, such as when Danny Elfman’s score pounds heavily to tell us this character IS NOW GOING TO ACT IN A VILLAINOUS MANNER and comedy elements in the final furlong are somewhat overplayed. Suitably haunting songs from Lana Del Rey (see below) that were written for the movie and play on multiple occasions throughout round off a very polished and, in terms of popular culture and art history, enlightening biography.