From director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the man behind the famous death trilogy (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel) comes a film that is the complete anti-thesis of his previous films and perhaps one of the most ingenious films to come out in quite some time.
Bold in execution and a technical showpiece that succeeds on just about every level, Birdman is a fascinating behind the scenes look into Hollywood, and the psyche of an actor. It’s also a satire of the film industry. At the center of it all is Michael Keaton playing Riggan Thompson, a washed up actor known to most people for playing a superhero. Now he struggles to stay relevant and looks to write, direct and star in a theater adaptation of Raymond Carver’s play, What We Talk About, When We Talk About Love? Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is the guy who makes this film, literally and metaphorically. His kinetic and dynamic direction is what guides the movie. He directs this film with such precision and energy, his willingness to take risks is truly impressive. With endless tracking shots, close-ups, it’s so beautifully filmed and directed, edited so well that it feels like it’s directed in one long take. Emmaneul Lubezki’s wonderful cinematography gives the film it’s visual splendor with vivid, eye-popping imagery.
Michael Keaton’s tour-de-force comeback performance is truly the highlight of the show, this movie is to him what Pulp Fiction was to John Travolta and what The Wrestler was to Mickey Rourke. Keaton’s performance is so complete in every way, his portrayal of a struggling artist begging for relevance is truly wonderful to watch. What’s great is that Keaton’s character Riggan seems to be loosely based on himself as Keaton too was known for playing Batman in the Tim Burton movies and has since then been downgraded to small supporting roles. The supporting cast clicks perfectly too, Edward Norton provides a show-stealing turn as Riggan’s cynical co-star Mike Shiner. Norton plays a character who amazing onstage but a constantly antagonizing force behind-the-scenes. Emma Stone also turns up a career-best performance playing Riggan’s daughter. The writing too is impeccable, the screenplay written by Inarritu, Armando Bo, Nicholas Giacobone and Alexander Dinearis is so brilliant, It’s filled with cracking dialogue and dark comedy. The characters are wonderfully well written. Antonio Sanchez’s excellent drum score beats nonstop and is the heart and soul of the film.
Birdman is a work of art, but it’s the philosophical questions it asks that make it not only a great film but a great experience. Riggan’s arrogance forces us to confront the arrogance within ourselves. It forces us to come to terms with our own shortcomings. The film is very meta which makes it relevant to our time. The constant references to superhero movies and social media are an indication of this and the film’s dissection of actors, critics, the audience makes for some great, biting satire. The film has a great deal of ambiguity as well and make you question whats real which is quite beautiful as well. Hand’s down, one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen