'Big Eyes' doesn't probe allure of the art

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

When Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) finally challenges her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz), who claimed to have created her artwork, you feel like cheering, but the movie doesn't explore how art this banal captures us.

Leah Gallo/The Weinstein Company/AP
Amy Adams appears in a scene from 'Big Eyes.'

Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes” isn’t nearly as creepy as most of his other movies, which I suppose is a good thing, although that also means it’s a 
bit bland. It centers on those, well, creepy Keane paintings that seemed to be everywhere in the ‘60s featuring children with immense, saucerlike eyes. The movie, scripted by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (who also wrote “Ed Wood” for Burton), is about the fraught marriage between Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), the real painter of those phenomenally successful kitsch collectibles, and Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), a poseur who pressured his wife into lying that he was the actual artist. 

Adams is very good at the difficult art of making passive characters interesting – a gift that stands her in good stead here. When Margaret finally rises to the occasion and, out of pride or spite or a combination, challenges Walter in court, you feel like cheering. Waltz overdoes the con artist’s bonhomie; it’s difficult to see how Margaret, even with all her recessiveness, could have been cowed for so long. We’re left with an enigma that is insufficiently probed: How does art this banal nevertheless capture us? Grade: B- (Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong language.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to 'Big Eyes' doesn't probe allure of the art
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today