The name Tim Burton is not exactly synonymous with modest budgets and introspective dramas. Especially in recent years, we tend to think of Burton as the director of big, stylized films with little substance underlying their other undeniable merits as pop art. But we should also remember that Burton is the man behind films like Ed Wood, which took a loving and complicated look at the Orson Welles of bad movies.
In a much-needed return to films like that, Burton has reteamed with his Ed Wood writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski for Big Eyes, starring Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams as the real-life artistic couple Walter and Margaret Keane who became famous in the 1960s for “pop-eyed paintings.”
Today, the first trailer for Big Eyes has landed, purporting to tell what went on behind the scenes as the couple rose to stardom. The major controversy here has to do with who actually painted those famous images. Margaret, it appears, was the actual artist behind the paintings, while her husband took all the credit for the work with the excuse that no one would buy something by a female artist. This obviously created conflict and dissension in the marriage as the paintings grew ever more successful and the money started pouring in.
The story is an interesting one in terms of artistic integrity and the marketing of pop art. There are some of the usual grotesque touches, but the film seems relatively circumspect in its use of typical Burton effect. Even in the brief glimpses we have of them, Waltz and Adams are a dynamic team (and Johnny Depp is nowhere in sight). Add to that mix the presences of Jason Schwartzman, Krysten Ritter, Terence Stamp, and Danny Huston, and we might have one fascinating movie on our hands. In any case, it’s good to see Burton doing something a little more serious and substantial again.
Big Eyes will have its wide release on December 25. You can check out the latest trailer for Burton’s new film below.