Thursday, January 22, 2015

Big Eyes: unlike other Tim Burton films

This past December, renowned filmmaker Tim Burton released "Big Eyes", a biopic drama about painter Margaret Keane and the challenges she faced with her greedy husband, Walter who takes credit for her paintings. For the duration of 106 minutes, I was completely immersed in the film for a myriad of reasons.

First off, I thought the acting was excellent. It was a nice change of pace seeing Amy Adams play the role of Margaret Keane. She's had many roles over the years, ranging from a happy-go-lucky princess in Enchanted to the seductive Sydney Prosser in American Hustle to the feisty reporter Lois Lane in Man of Steel. Adam's performance as Margaret required her to be more softspoken and less bubbly, which was a big contrast to her other roles. And Christoph Waltz perfectly captured the essence of Walter Keane's persona (a manipulative jerk).

The art direction was fabulous. The costumes, location, and set were all very accurate to the 50's/60's period, and I never felt like any of it was super outrageous, like other Burton films sometimes are. They used color to convey emotions and conflicts at various points, which made the story that much more intense.
The contrasting colors between DeeAnn (center) and Margaret/Walter really heighten the conflict in the scene, where Walter is trying to convince DeeAnn that he is the real painter.

In this scene, the use of red lighting, and the green in the painting emphasize the anger/intensity of the moment between the two (red) and the impending doom of the moment where he begins to take credit for the paintings.

In addition to these specific scenes, Margaret wears a lot of blue tones, conveying her sadness/frustration for keeping her skills a secret.

Since the premise of the film is biographical it definitely feels more real, but the tone of this film was unlike the others. Burton is known for producing/directing films that lean more toward fantasy, horror, and general quirky-ness; Big Eyes does not fit this theme. What I felt made this film unique was how real everything felt, unlike other Burton films such as Edward Scissorhands, Alice in Wonderland, and Corpse Bride. Granted, those are all fantasy, so it's hard to compare them in that sense. The quirkiness of Burton's films isn't my favorite thing in the world, so this was very refreshing.

Overall, I really loved the film. The art direction was fantastic, and the acting was very good. I felt the real-ness of the story, as opposed to past Burton films which are more fantasy/horror. I think this film is a turning point in Burton's career--this was definitely his most mature film yet.

I would highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys great art, and a story about a triumphant woman who finally gets her dream.

(here is the trailer, for those of you interested)

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