Margaret Keane is an ideal subject for those purveyors of the quirky biopic, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski: she wasn’t outlandishly talented, her art is emblematic of 1960s kitsch, and she ultimately found spiritual refuge in the strange embrace of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But her greatest achievement was being able to lay claim to her work in the first place. For many years, her second husband, Walter Keane, sold all of her hideous portraits of bug-eyed children under his name; it wasn’t until Margaret painted in front of a judge that she was finally given rightful credit.
According to Variety, Alexander and Karaszewski’s Big Eyes (this is not their directorial debut, Michael Fleming!) will parallel her personal independence with the burgeoning feminist movement. This makes me sleepy. But the thought of Kate Hudson starring as the wronged, oft-parodied artist has its appeal. It’s been a long, long time since Hudson bothered to act (I’ll be kind and give her Le Divorce); there was promise in Almost Famous, but it’s been squandered in so many formula romantic comedies. If she’s any interest in repairing her reputation (not that she has to; she’s a steady box office draw), this is the kind of project that could get the critics to take her seriously again.
It’s also the kind of project that would’ve been perfect for Tim Burton, who actually commissioned Keane to paint a portrait of his one-time girlfriend, Lisa Marie. Big Eyes is scheduled to commence principal photography in June, though that is apparently contingent on the possible SAG strike.