Rating : **
The latest film by Tim Burton see’s him tackle another biopic, this time the story of Margaret Keane, the painter of the big eyed waiffs whose paintings rose to fame in the 50s and 60s but her husband took credit for the work until she outed him in the late 60s.
He tells the story with his own flare and style, with Christopher Waltz and Amy Adams taking on the roles of the Keane’s. There is not much that could go wrong in such a strange tale.
With recent Burton movies being slightly disappointing (not including Frankenweenie) many people had wrote the film off before even seeing it. Personally I haven’t been let down by any of his movies but I hadn’t been wow’d by a movie since possibly Big Fish.
Instantly this film feels special, it still is very Burton-esque in feel (it was bound to be) but it also feels different from his latest films.
Then again what made this film is the characters and the actors playing those roles.
The story was a wild yet simple tale and it was the people involved that made the story so exciting. For that you need to cast correctly and the mixture of Waltz and Adams was a winner from the start. I’m a fan of both but I couldn’t see the usual leading males and females working quite as well (those being Helena Bohem Carter and Johnny Depp) and to be fair both Waltz and Adams made the film explode on screen.
Now I’ll admit that I’m a bit biased but I have to say that Waltz was just amazing. He really is one of the best actors around at the moment. His character is a difficult one to pull off, at all times he has this eccentric charm about him that makes you love him, but underneath and not so well hidden is a ugly streak that at times can totally explode into a violent temper. He is a sales man, that is his biggest trait. He can seel himself to people and sell other people’s work as his own. He has a charm about him that makes people instantly like him and from the moment he enters discourse with someone he’s sold something to them.
That is the way his character hooks in Margaret. She is a bit naive but she’s also a strong and brave character, just in a world that wasn’t designed for strong and brave women. Running away from her husband right at the beginning tells us more about the character then any other action in the film did (in a positive way, it was a brave thing she did!) Her relationship with her daughter and Walter define her, not in a negative way, you see how she grows through these relationships. She gets herself trapped, then she gets herself trapped in a bigger lie then she realised she was walking into, she didn’t have the charm or the charisma of her husband so she got herself stuck. Not for one moment was she ever seen as a weak character, not once was she portrayed as being under the thumb. She was a artist that had let her husband claim her work as his own and because he had the gift of gab to sell it and that was her only income she was left with the option of leave and have nothing or stay and give her daughter the life she wanted for her.
Both are wonderful in their roles. Both are able to bring two very interesting characters to life in a over the top way that doesn’t lose the essence of the characters and their lives.
The story is extremely simple. There isn’t too much drama in their lives and she spends most of her time painting whilst we see him chatting to people. The middle part of the movie is full of bubbling tension but not actually anything happening BUT Burton is able to keep you hooked. You love the characters so spending time with them and seeing this tension build is interesting. It is character driven and Burton brings it to the big screen with so much life, such vibrant charm that it keeps you hooked from beginning to end. You feel the need to make sure that you see this through to the end with Margaret and see Walter gets what it coming to him.
And he does in one of the greatest court room dramas of all times which will have you laughing as well as just being damned proud of Margaret.
Even if you know the story its worth watching.
Honestly though you’ll be watching it for the acting as it really is the two stars of the show that make it. I can’t really say there was anything spectacular other then the acting but the chemistry they have, the level of connection they bring to the audience means that you instantly relate and care about this crazy story. It is simply that impressive.