The odd likability of Birdman
What happens when you make a film starring a man who used to be Batman before he walked away playing a washed up actor who wanted away from a fictional superhero franchise? Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is going to pick your brain with that question.Birdman is a weird bird. Lets just get that out of the way. A film about an aging actor who’s got a toxic relationship with his daughter and is trying to recapture something of his glory days by writing and starring in his own Broadway play. Once the star of the franchise Birdman before he walked away and now is haunted by the voice of Birdman as his inner demon. Just the premise alone is something but when you toss in Michael Keaton yes Batman (and my favorite Bats) as Riggan Thomson. Seems a bit on the nose right? Regardless the film tries to give you this griping inside look into a man tormented by his past and his choices as he struggles to prove to the entertainment industry and mostly himself he can do this.
The way this is shot with a continuous long cut is odd it actually make the film less fluid. The story though keeps you invested. Emma Stone plays Riggan’s daughter Sam fresh from rehab with a ‘I hate the world” mentality. She is his personal assistant probably so he can keep and eye on her and try to connect with her. She’s got that mad at the world for no reason persona. The play “what we talk about when we talk about love” has its own cast of characters who make Riggan question this venture. Jake (Zach Galifianakis) is his producer worried about the bottom line, Laura (Andrea Riseborough) one of his co-stars and off-screen his girlfriend although it seems he doesn’t want to be with her anymore. When he has to deal with a terrible actor whom he replaces with extremely difficult but universally loved by critics and the public Mike (Edward Norton) he starts to feel what little grip he has on reality slipping away.
You realize that this is a cast full of people with their own sets of issues, nobody is perfect and everyone brings even more stress tot he already stressed out Riggan. His relationship with Mike as co-stars and his relationship with Sam are the major stressors that threaten at every turn to break him. He’s a man on the ledge and this will either make him snap or bring him to the glory and relevancy he’s despepately trying to reclaim. As Birdman ontinues Riggan’s inner monologue and struggles start to give even clearly pictures as to where he hopes to go with this.
Birdman is so close to perfect but the ending has me still talking about it days after I’ve seen the film. I keep replaying it to think if I can decide how I really feel about the ending and what it all means. Its quite maddening to be honest. Merritt Weaver and Naomi Watts also star.
My Rating: Full Movie
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Release Date: October 24, 2014 (Limited)
Run time: 119 minutes
MPAA Rating: R