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Title: Big Eyes

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:83

“Big Eyes” is a biopic of real life painter of Margaret Keane and her charlatan husband, Walter. I knew much of the original story from the expose’s years ago, but I was really curious to see how Adams and Waltz did in the roles. With Tim Burton directing I was slightly worried, as the man has a stigma for directing dark and gothic tales of goofiness, much like “Dark Shadows” is considered a “by the numbers” Burton film. Interestingly enough the movie is not what you would expect from the director, yet his handiwork is all over it. Waltz and Adams stole the spotlight and were fantastic and I have to say that Burton’s trademark elements of goof made the madcap real life story seem more down to earth. I left pleasantly surprised and with a smile across my face.

Margaret (Amy Adams) left her original husband with her daughter Jane (Delaney Raye) in order to make a better life for herself after a horrible relationship. This is in an era when a woman on her own wasn’t exactly considered the highest of priorities for work and ends up painting for a furniture company and peddling her wares at simple art fairs. It’s at one of these little art fairs that she meets the handsome and charming Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), another painter peddling his paintings at the fair. This starts off a little romance that ends in a hasty marriage when Margaret’s ex-husband tries to sue for custody of Jane.

All is rosy and perfect at first with the pair enjoying wedded bliss and Margaret starts to paint those famous big eyed paintings that got her stardom. Husband Walter sees an opportunity and as the incredible salesman that he is, he markets the painting as his own and stumbles into a goldmine. Margie isn’t exactly happy that Walter stole her credit, but the money was coming in hand over fist and his charm and charisma kind of glossed over everything. As with all lies, it starts out simple and then the hole keeps getting deeper and deeper. Soon Walter was making her paint consistently and his fame was getting bigger and bigger, along with their assets. After 10 years of being in control Walter became more and more obsessed with his “legend” and his vicious control over his wife came to a head, forcing Margaret to take Jane and leave Walter. After their divorce, she finally broke silence, and in an epic turn of events upset Walter in court, finally reclaiming her own work as her OWN and leaving Walter with what he justly deserved. Nothing.

The film is a different pace for director Time Burton. As I mentioned, we normally associate him with dark, brooding and gothic films that made him famous (think “Edwards Scissorhands”, “Dark Shadows” and the like), but this shows he can follow a more traditional form of storytelling. Even though there is a hint of his normal madcap humor lurking under the surface, and really comes out in the open during the trial sequence when Walter becomes a walking parody of himself. The tale itself is true, but of course some things are dramatized for the big screen, and other things are left out completely. For example, the big eyes came from Margaret when she spent a portion of her childhood temporarily deaf and was an extension of that time. The underlying humor was tweaked here and there and Walter’s mad moment where he tries to burn them out of the studio were a bit embellished. Still, the story rings true to the really tale, with Margaret taking back her legacy and the bitter Walter living out the rest of his days in shame, penniless. Ironically he always claimed that he was in the right, up until the day he died, even though he could never product another painting.

The movie has its fair share of good performances and cameos by actors like Terrance Stamp and Krysten Ritter, but the movie is carried by the two incredible performances of Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams. Christoph is a personal favorite of mine, as the man can’t seem to turn in a bad performance. Whether he’s playing the hero like in “Django Unchained” or the villain in “Horrible Bosses 2”, he’s a zany scene stealer with incredible charm. Waltz’s natural charisma and charm translates well in his portrayal of Walter, who was a slick Willy of incredible proportions. He really sells that he could steal his wife’s work and sell it as his own without a flicker of conscience or shame. At the beginning of their trip down the rabbit hole where Amy first finds out about him stealing her good name and they argue over who is going to take credit, you see Amy’s face struggle with the desire to tell the buyer that it is her painting, and then Walter swoops in without a flicker on his face and bold faces lies like it’s nothing. He wows everyone, from the characters in the movie to the people sitting in the audience. Adams is nothing short of wonderful as the sweet painter who is languishing in silence. Year in and year out she paints and paints her soul away only to have the greedy person who promised to love and cherish her walk right over her emotions and feelings. She plays Margaret as both a woman who feels weak and trapped, but also as a woman who’s strong and in knows herself inside and out by the end of the film. The two characters are a stark contrast of each other. Margie is introverted and beautifully artistic, while Walter is an extrovert who’s a master at making people think what he wants them to think. What seems like the perfect match, that is until one walks right over the other.


Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong language

Video :4.5stars:
Anchor Bay’s 1.78:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray is a real stunner in the picture department. There’s a few scenes of mild banding in a couple darker sequences, but other than that small blemish the image is spotless. The colors are bright and cheery with a brightness to the picture reminiscent of the 50s and 60s. Lights are extremely bright and skin tones look natural, even with the brights turned up to near max. Detail is stunning as you can see everything from stitching on clothing to the scrape running down the car door or the individual dimples on the bricks of Enrico Banducci’s little night club. While the extra brightness can wash out blacks in many movies, this issue is not prevalent here as the blacks look inky and as deep as you could desire. Shadow detail is exquisite and the disc appears to be artifact free (except for said flicker of banding that shows up intermittently).

Audio :4.5stars:
Color me really surprised (and tickled pink) when I find out that the 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless track included with the Blu-ray is a bit more active than your standard drama. The track is sprightly and energetic with a musical score that will lift the spirits and brighten the mood. Surround activity is impressively robust with the sounds of cameras clicking from all around, the squeal of tires to shriek behind you and the musical numbers to, of course, fill out all 5 channels when needed. The dialog is crystal clear and fantastically balanced with the rest of the track. Dynamic range is solid, but not excessive, and I never once had to turn the track up or down to understand anything. The LFE is mainly to support the score, but there is plenty of added uuumph to the bottom end that is very noticeable. Little things like the slam of a door, or the thud of a footstep on wood flooring lights up the sub amp and adds some nice dimensionality and weight to the lower end of the audible spectrum. A definite A+ experience all around.

Extras :2stars:

• The Making of "Big Eyes"
• Q&A Highlights

Overall: :4stars:

“Big Eyes” is a nice little biopic that isn’t as stuffy as some biopics go. It’s based on a true story, but Tim Burton keeps it airy and light enough that you can enjoy it as a simple feature film. Or, view it as a cautionary tale of life, with two diametrically opposed people both living lies. Margaret has to live the lie of suffering through watching her work being used in a way that she doesn’t want, and Walter has to suffer with the lie that he’s created and the effort it takes to keep that lie afloat, which is pretty much a full time job in and of itself. Starz/Anchor Bay has done a fantastic job with the Blu-ray, with stellar audio and video scores across the board, with the only weak point being the limited extras. The movie itself combined with the audio makes it a must watch in my humble opinion.

Additional Information:

Starring: Chrisoph Waltz, Amy Adams
Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish 5.1
Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 106 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 14th 2015

Buy Big Eyes On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

More about Mike

2,072 Posts
Thanks for the review. I heard about this movie sometime back but never got to see it. Will check it out. Hard to believe there are folks out in this world who would take advantage of their own wife's talent. He could have had it all (fame and riches) just by supporting his wife.

HTS Moderator , Reviewer
5,742 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the review. I heard about this movie sometime back but never got to see it. Will check it out. Hard to believe there are folks out in this world who would take advantage of their own wife's talent. He could have had it all (fame and riches) just by supporting his wife.
it's amazing what pride and greed will do to a person
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