Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Big Eyes

At first glance, Big Eyes is probably not the most recognisable Tim Burton film.

It’s not visually eccentric, production design is pretty subdue and Johnny Depp isn’t in it. For a film that could have been a bleak biopic about an artist who is exploited by her husband; Burton’s touch makes it an appropriately poignant yet wonderfully subversive.

Margaret, a San Franciscan artist is schmoozed all the way to the altar by Walter Keane; then an equally struggling artist who she eventually allowed to take credit for all her work. Neither of their work fit in with artistic trends of the time and Margaret’s trademarked ‘big eyes’ in her paintings were particularly unconventional. Walter Keane charming, bold and a bit camp –has a really unsettling aspect to his personality. Margaret on the other hand is meek throughout but at the same time, there’s an almost silent confidence to her and I just LOVED this light and shade within her character.

So many parallels can be drawn between Keane’s paintings themselves and Burton’s animations which are both distorted and visually disturbing. This style is surprisingly perfect for this story because they are so deftly used to handle heavier themes of sexism, classism and treatment of women in America in the 50’s. Big Eyes proves Burton can strip back and still tell a great story. The film is a lot quieter than his others, but the magic is all there.

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