Being a classically trained artist, I can’t say that I was ever a fan of Margaret Keane’s work. In fact, the opposite is probably true. That said, I’m always curious to see biopics on artists, and the story seemed compelling to me on many levels.
…so many other compelling themes worth exploring: high versus low art, the cult of celebrity and persona, commercialism in art, and women’s traditionally subordinate position in the art scene.
Unfortunately, in the end the film fell rather flat for me. Much, some might say, like the vapid images of Margaret Keane herself. It did, however, have its strong suits. Visually, the film was absolutely stunning, and did a fantastic job incorporating Keane’s candy colored palette onscreen, and a beautiful job of depicting San Francisco’s club and art scene as well as fashion in the 1960s. Adams was perfectly cast as Margaret Keane, and gave a wonderfully understated and pitch perfect performance of the soft spoken yet emotive character. Bonus points for the Warhol references as well.
What was lacking in this film was a true story arc and character development, and as a result the film felt rather slow moving. Motives and back story for the characters were unclear, and I did not feel truly invested in the story itself. The most compelling facet of this story was not truly explored, this idea of an artist’s identity—stolen but with permission. If, as the film implied, an artist puts one’s soul on the canvas, what does it mean for someone else to co-opt and claim the work? Does that leave the artist in a soulless vacuum or a purgatory? And what does that space feel like?
Most disappointing to me, the film barely scratched the surface on so many other compelling themes worth exploring: high versus low art, the cult of celebrity and persona, commercialism in art, and women’s traditionally subordinate position in the art scene.
I would have liked this film to have a more “indie” feel to it, the visuals were great, but much of the production like the Danny Elfman soundtrack, felt too epic and Hollywood for this small film. —Maja Brugos
Photo by Leah Gallo – © 2014 The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved