Critic’s rating: 4.5/5
Star cast: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s
Genre: Black Comedy-Drama
Running time: 119 minutes
“A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing.”
Story scan: Riggan Thompson is attempting to redefine his career through a new Broadway play that he is directing, preparing, and performing in. Years ago he rose to fame after playing a masked superhero named Birdman in a series of films. Since the cancellation of series after three films Riggan has fallen on hard times both professionally and in his personal life. Even with the support of Riggan’s Overseer Jake (Zach Galifianikis) and a talented crew of Broadway veterans (Edward Norton) and newbie (Naomi Watts), the play begins to run into successive problems leading up to its opening night. Adding to the strain, Riggan’s rationality comes into question as he drifts in and out of reality as he sometimes hears the voice of his masked alter ego that he played on-screen many years ago. Though his confidence in the Broadway show comes and goes as the clock ticks away to the curtain rising, Riggan is compelled to make good for his past failures and sees this play as a solution. This play is a form of therapy for Riggan to confront his mistakes while simultaneously hoping that it just might be the start of a new life for him. Keaton portrays this inner struggle between his “real” problems and artistic problems to great effect. No matter how much pain he may have caused by his past mistakes (being a confounding father, a philandering husband, etc.), the delinquency of his doings, in a sick sort of way, is the Fuel to his Fire to succeed all the more.
Movie Scan: The arduous camera-work that navigates around actors and between scenes is the first and most prominent feature. The entire cast plays off the technical energy of the film perfectly and conveys the weight of the material in an acute manner. A scene early on where he confronts a newspaper critic in a bar practically encouraged me to stand up and applaud in the Odeum. The loudest praise should go to Michael Keaton. The Potency and multidimensional performance will surprise many given his absence from films of this nature as of late. Without a doubt he should be nominated and winning many Awards this year.
This is really only a fraction of what is going on in this deep and intelligent film. BIRDMAN is such an intrinsic view of the creative process that it’s a fantastical imagery such as the opening scene where we see Riggan meditating in midair in his dressing room or later when he flings items across the room proves that Riggan doesn’t entirely want to abandon the superhero role since it brought him fame and fortune.
Much like Keaton’s character, BIRDMAN feels like it’s on the brink of falling apart. Between all the characters involved, the many themes at work, and the awe inspiring camera shots, there is so much intensity that you can’t help but stare in awe at the majesty of this triumphant and artistic masterpiece.