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The good news is that Tim Burton does not wrap everything in cotton candy in this film about a family of painters with an issue. There is no singing Johnny Depp and no goth-painted what-was-her-name-former-wife-of-his? It is a mostly straightforwardly filmed illustration about the grotesque life of the Keane family. Apparently it is (based on) a true story, one I did not know about. That’s a good thing when going to the movies, of course, the story had all the chances of taking me by surprise, exciting and amusing me.

The thing is: when I realised where the story was going, I got instantaneously bored. A con-man sort of serial husband and serial imposter talks his wife into selling her pictures under his name… even with Christoph Waltz in the starring role this could not grab my attention. Actually, Waltz is part of the problem here: these days, he easily falls into the “Doing The Waltz” trap, an overacting of his slightly sophisticated, slightly twerpy standard part. As “Big Eyes” requires just that (maybe because the “real” Keane was like that, I assume?), his performance is borderline persiflage of a certain kind of person. For me, this was too much, and I would rather blame Burton for it than Waltz, who we know can be much more subtle. The narrative framework with the journalist as a narrator also does not make too much sense, given the almost utter absence of this journalist from the action.

In the end, we have a colourful, somehow feel-good, frequently funny depiction of the foolish world of “artists and pretenders”, but the film is never more than slight, never more substantial than a printed Keane poster on a bathroom wall.

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