Big Eyes brings us a very interesting, intriguing story about the painterly married couple Kin, who gained popularity on the art scene in the 50s and 60s of the last century. The story reveals the truth about Christoph Waltz, a successful businessman and famous painter who has deceived the public for years by claiming to be the author of famous Big Eyes portraits. His wife, Margaret (Amy Adams), the real author of the portrait, discovered the truth only twenty years later, which will be confirmed in court. The film takes us back to the very beginning of their relationship, from the first meeting, beautiful moments together, all the way to their married life.
We meet Margaret, the single mother of the girl Jane, a withdrawn, modest artist who expresses her own emotions through portraits of children with sad big eyes. The fragile exterior hides a lonely and nostalgic soul, but also a very strong, caring mother who will do everything for the benefit of her daughter. Marrying the charming Voltaire was supposed to be a new, beautiful start to family life, but Margaret becomes a victim of manipulation and a potential means of achieving Voltaire’s success. While Voltaire reaps the fruits of someone else’s work and enjoys fame, Margaret is locked in a house, painting her famous portraits day and night, for which Voltaire will take credit for years.
Elements of the recognizable Barton style can be seen here only in some segments, and in many details it reminded me of the film Edward Scissorhands (costume design, old-timers in various colors, futuristic look of the house, pastel colors). Barton used his otherwise exuberant imagination very moderately and decently, and as the only trace of fantasy in the film, I single out the symbolic scene in which Margaret begins to visualize her own Big Eyes portraits in passing passers-by.
Barton also played with colors, ie their contrast, which especially emphasized the personality of the characters themselves, but also the ambience, which is mostly in a positive tone. With black-and-white photography, he emphasizes only certain moments that are related to the period in which the work is located, but are also closely related to Voltaire’s personality. The framed paintings on the wall on which Voltaire is located are in black and white, as is the television when he is a guest on the show.
Barton has always loved outsiders as the main characters. Whether they are imaginary animated characters or real people, his films are a range of alienated, misunderstood souls with whom he identifies a large part of himself. We could say that Margaret fits into that image of Barton’s classic protagonist, mostly because she is a withdrawn, fragile, talented painter who at one point loses her own identity. Barton knew Margaret personally, and many of his illustrations, as well as film characters, were inspired by Big Eyes portraits.
The motives for making this film are quite obvious, and the project itself is a kind of recognition and respect for Margaret Keane as well as her work. Although the film deals exclusively with the private and professional life of the Kinn couple, it also re-examines the position of women as artists in a period in which art was expressed by a predominantly dominant male culture.
The film is full of great, diverse music that further enriches the moving pictures. The collaboration with the composer Deni Elfman continues with this film, but with the addition of some other appropriate melodies that perfectly conduct the atmosphere of the film. Fantastic Title-track Lane del Rey is like icing on the cake, and her special, great vocals and melancholic notes of the song perfectly outline the emotions of Margaret Keane in moments of creativity.
Voltaire is a classic example of an egomaniac and a man who tramples everything in front of him in order to achieve the set goal. He is a polite, sweet-spoken gentleman and an intelligent businessman, but on the other hand he is a pathological liar and an unscrupulous husband. Although he is responsible for the success of the Big Eyes portrait, the goal in this case does not justify the means. Christopher Waltz in the role of the self-satisfied Voltaire is brilliant, and he gave the character charisma and charm, which makes it difficult to experience Voltaire as a typical repulsive villain.
Big Eyes is a Barton playful film and a very enjoyable and positive film experience with great acting performances. Although based on an unfortunate true human story, this film is not in the form of a classic sad drama to which you will shed a tear. It may not knock you off your feet, but if you are a fan of biographical films, be sure to put this one on your watchlist.