Birdman is a poetic tale about fictional movie star Riggan Thomson who, as he is only famous for his role as superhero Birdman in the 90s blockbusters of the same name, is trying to recreate his image as a true “artist” by writing, directing and starring in a Broadway play. The film follows Riggan as the stress and pressure from the play and everyone around him cause him to steadily lose his sanity. The film questions what the difference between is between commercial fame and successes and true art, whether success means how popular you are or how respected you are, and just how far someone can go for there image. It is a spectacle and a best picture winner, a masterful film. It is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and stars Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Emma Stone, Amy Ryan and Naomi Watts.
A point that makes this film unique is how it’s made. It is masterfully constructed to look like the whole film was done in one long 2 hour take. It isn’t, it was done in like 15ish minute takes then masterfully edited together, but it is done so well, there were only a couple of times when I could tell where they edited but that was only because this was my 3rd watch of the film and I was looking for it. It flows so well you feel like actually watching a play.
The film feels very theatrical, the dialogue and story doesn’t exactly feel real, it feels like what people say in plays, like a modern version of Shakespeare, but it works! It fits the style perfectly as the film is about the rivalry between theatre and Hollywood, so making the film feel like a play, with the one long take and the dialogue, adds to the feeling perfectly. The film is very artistic, and this might not be to everyone’s taste, but it definitely worked for me.
The characters and the acting make this film what it is. The supporting characters feel like archetypes that we’ve seen before, like the paranoid agent or the insecure newbie, but all the actors bring such truth and sincerity to the roles that they aren’t archetypes anymore. They feel real in this theatrical world. No one is bad, everyone of the supporting cast is on there A-game, it would take too long to go through them all individually. Edward Norton was my favourite of the supporting cast though, just because I find his theatre ego and dooshiness hilarious.
Micheal Keaton is fascinating in the leading role. He portrays his inner conflict perfectly, as he is tormented by the voice of the Birdman telling him to abandon the show and just do another Birdman film for a billion dollars. This arc is perfect for Keaton as he is known for playing Batman in the 80s, so it brings a realism to his performance. I found the most intense and interesting scenes in the film where the ones with just Keaton on his own as he struggles with the voice. It is a great parable for movie stars now a-days as it puts “actors” against “celebrity’s,” using real people to illustrate this, with references to Robert Downy Jr.’s Ironman and plenty more actors, showing Hollywoods obsession with super heros and franchises.
Quick final point is the soundtrack, it is mainly just a constant drum beat that flows with the drama and blends into the background, there’s not much to say but I think it’s a great addition.
Birdman is a masterfully made and acted film, and while it may not be to everyone’s taste it is unquestionably well made and a must see.
P.S. Probably feels like I should give it 10/10 but 9 is still up there with the best, I just didn’t feel like it should get a 10 for me even though it was one of my favourites from last year. Also I feel like I’ve made this film sound too serious, it is serious but there are funny moments too.