Big Eyes Review

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By: Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)



We all have an idea of how vast the world is. Just a glimpse at the World Wide Web with its infinite searching abilities gives us a little glimpse of that. But there are so many stories that we may not be familiar with, stories that only become apparent when they are expressed through a book, the media, or on screen. One of those stories is that of Margaret Keane, an artist from the 1950’s whose story is finally told in the film Big Eyes.

Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) is an artist – a painter, specifically – who creates paintings of children with enlarged eyes and through the style, feels you can look into the soul of the human through them. Early on, she meets another painter/artist, Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who convinces her to get married and they can both express their love of life through their art. Margaret has a hard time getting her paintings sold, as work by a woman is seen as inferior. However, at a bar of Walter’s friend, people take an interest in her work. When asked who painted the pictures, Walter claims the credit for himself, justifying it by saying no one would buy them if they knew it was from her. Soon the paintings by Margaret become the hottest commodity and the money flows in. But how long will Margaret be able to lie to the public and her family about the real artist, and how long will her sanity and faith maintain her through this rocky road?

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The story of Margaret Keane is one that is less known, but suitable for all ages. It is a story about finding oneself and learning to stand up for who you are. Margaret has struggled throughout her entire life, and once her paintings do well, someone else takes the credit. Being the 1950’s, women were looked down upon and the man was the head of household. One line from a priest reaffirms this thought process. But there comes a point when a person is beat down enough, they end up taking a stand for who they are. This story gives rise to everyone, showing that you need to take credit for the work you do and that it is important to speak up for yourself and express your views and opinions when you know something is wrong. Margaret could have continued to live the life she was in, but she was not only lying to herself, but she was also lying to her only daughter. Margaret’s story shows the power an individual has and that it takes only one’s will to make a stand and statement for the world to see.

The transformation of Amy Adams through the film is one of peaks and valleys. She starts out as a woman who ran away from a bad marriage to try and make an honest living for her and her daughter. But a young, naive woman in a big world is perfect prey for would-be predators. Once in her relationship and marriage, we see the high of her character with the success and the eventual low knowing that the credit for her work is going to another. She gets to the point of a nervous breakdown, seeing the big eyes reflected in everyday people. And it isn’t until she takes the stand, culminating in an epic conclusion to a court case that sounds like something from fiction but was, in all actuality, real. Adams takes us on this journey, allowing us to experience the highs and lows, the happiness and sadness, the despair and mental breakdowns with such clarity, one can only feel deeply for her situation. Christoph Waltz, on the other hand, is a smooth talking con man of sorts. He knows what he wants and he gets what he wants. While Waltz is an amazing actor, his character almost feels one note through most of the film. And maybe that’s how the real Walter Keane was. But this story really falls squarely on the shoulders of Adams and she carries it perfectly. One would expect nothing less from an actress of her caliber.

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Big Eyes will definitely be overshadowed with the releases of such films as Into the Woods, American Sniper, and The Gambler, but for those who do venture into the theaters to see it, a rewarding experience awaits. While it doesn’t have the bells and whistles the other films have, this is a true story with a great performance from Amy Adams. There’s so much which can be taken from the film and applied to our own lives, to help us become better people in our own rights, to stand up for what we believe in, and to voice our thoughts and opinions instead of being shy and timid, allowing life to walk all over us. Adams has been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance, and as Oscar nod should be forthcoming as well. With so many good films this weekend, it’s hard to choose which to see, but know that Big Eyes is more than worth your time.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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