This movie won a couple of Golden Globes, but got no Oscar love and it seems to have already kind of vanished from the public mind, to the degree it was ever there in the first place. This is a real shame as it is Burton’s best film in a very, very long time. It’s based on the true story of a husband & wife, both painters, and the way that the husband took credit for his wife’s work for years. The story sits right in my wheelhouse; art vs. product, truth vs. fiction, etc. And Burton too understands those things right down to his bones and he does a great job giving the film a distinctive visual flair without crossing over into being precious or twee. Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz is a pairing I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of, but they’re both among the best actors working today, so it’s no surprise that the performances here are stellar. Adams finds a real vulnerability and pain, as she often does, and Waltz gives a masterfully precise performance that’s surprisingly comedic. The film is, for a movie about art and truth, refreshingly unpretentious, focusing above all on the emotional costs of the relationship decisions of these two flawed people, though the bigger questions are certainly there in the subtext and occasionally come to the fore. The cast is rounded out by excellent turns from a sardonic, if underused, Jason Schwartzman, a craggy, uncompromising Terence Stamp and a twitchy, edgy Krysten Ritter, an actress I’m starting to really like. I hope this signals a return to making more thoughtful, interesting films by Burton, a director I’ve always loved and wanted a return to form from. This is a quiet movie and one that’s simply & unpretentiously excellent without ever making a big deal out of it, which is probably why it’s faded so quickly and unfairly. You really need to check it out. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – a brilliant cast and a return to form from Burton; a focus on emotional fallout amidst big philosophical questions. What more do you need? 4 stars.