Los Angeles; Exterior. It is a mild December evening. I briskly walk to the iconic Ace Theatre Hotel in Downtown LA for the screening of the soon to be released film BIG EYES. Directed by TIM BURTON starring AMY ADAMS and CHRISTOPH WALTZ. I have been excited to see the film since I saw the trailer but I didn’t know if I would like it. I grab my tickets, a drink and some popcorn and then take in the spectacularly beautiful theatre. The lights begin to dim, signaling the film is about to begin.
Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) meets Margaret (Amy Adams) in what seems to be a charming meet cute between two fellow artists. Christoph plays a charismatic and dazzling salesman/ aspiring artist. Adams plays a timid recently divorced single mother who’s passion for art is palpable.
Without giving away any of the plot , things are not as they seem. One scene in particular when Amy Adams Character Margaret peels away a layer of paint. Symbolic of the revelation she makes about her now husband Walter Keane and the plot twist begins. At this point in the movie I was hooked. It almost turned into a thriller. The power dynamic shifts and the thick of the conflict is riveting and well written.
The resolve of the movie comes in the form of a very well written and even better performed courtroom drama. (As if I couldn’t love Christoph Waltz more) . His performance was hilariously outrageous. Devilish and yet playful. A balance only Christoph can strike. Somehow I love and hate his character all at once. His courtroom antics would make you believe this was a heightened reality or caricaturized version of Walter Keane but apparently this was a tamer version of how the real life court battle played out. In the Q&A afterward the producers/ screenwriters ( Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski ) revealed that the judge threatened to have the real Walter Keane lynched for his antics. The final resolution comes in the form of a painting in the courtroom. There were several outbursts of applause from the audience as Amy Adam’s Character reclaims her power and finally stands up for herself.
It is a story that is interesting on so many levels, not just for artists. Most notably the very personal and extremely relatable season of growth and learning that Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) goes through. The film exceeded my expectations and the performance especially by Christoph waltz is on par with, or even slightly surpasses his performance in Django Unchained.
The film ends. Credits roll. The Q&A begins.
In attendance on stage : AMY ADAMS, MARGARET KEANE and the writers / producers of the film Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski .
The screenwriters praise Tim Burton for not stylizing the film more than necessary which kept the focus on the story. Then the real Margaret quips, “Tim Burton gets all the credit but I did all the work. ” The audience ROARS with laughter and continues with a LONG applause. This little 90 year old spitfire says the line of the night. My friend lean into me and said, “That is so Meta.” That was exactly what that comment was. It was topical and on the nose. It summarized the playfulness and whimsy of the film with a striking element of truth. It was after all her life. She lived it. It was her art. She painted it. That comment was perhaps one of the most artistic expressions I have heard in a long while.
Bottom line: GO SEE BIG EYES!! In Theatres Dec 25th .
Written late at night by: ABI BEAUX