, 106min, OmdU
Tim Burton’s BIG EYES is in one way a bizarre true-crime tale. It charts the success and decline of Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), an artist in the 1950’s whose paintings of sad, waifish children with enormous eyes became a national phenomenon and an early example of mass production of art. But it’s really the tale of Walter’s wife Margaret, who actually produced every single painting, eventually revealed the massive fraud of Walter’s operation, and successfully sued her husband.
Fittingly for Burton, BIG EYES has an off-kilter, comic approach to its can’t-make-this-up story. But it locates real melancholy in Walter’s genuine romance with Margaret and how it slowly disintegrated into him robbing her of her work. Two-time Oscar-winner Waltz is well-cast as Walter, who needs to have initial charm before devolving into a figure of real malice and delusion. His mellifluousness and instant salesmanship (first of himself, and then of Margaret’s work) helps show you just what Margaret saw in him, but Waltz invests him with embittered darkness right from the get-go, a sign of trouble ahead. (David Sims)