Michael Keaton stars as Riggan Thomson, a movie star famous for his titular role in the "BIRDMAN" franchise. With his glory days behind him, Riggan attempts to write, direct and star in a stage play, everything would be fine if he wasn't haunted by the persona of the superhero he used to play.
Birdman, is finally here, the movie everyone is talking about! So.....is it really that good?
The answer is yes! Birdman is an astonishing achievement both technically and creatively. It truly is a unique and captivating experience that never lets up. At first glance Birdman may seem like a silly story about an actor with the voice of a superhero in his head, but Birdman is so much more and it knows it.
The film is about existence, pop culture, family, duality, the public's perception of celebrities and so much more! Birdman is absolute perfection, its without a doubt my favorite movie of the year and one of the best films I have ever seen.
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu and his cinematographer Emmanual Lubezki created a film that looks to be all one sequence, there are cuts throughout placed in the most concealed spots, with some clever camera movements, a good use of shadows and some excellent actors, it all works perfectly. Because of this, there never feels like a moment to take a breather, because it is so unpredictable, absolutely anything could happen at any moment. Accompanying this unpredictability is the insanely catchy drum only score which will stop and start at random times.
Michael Keaton is Riggan Thomson and this is the comeback he deserves. Throughout the past year we've seen him in small roles in some not so good movies but it was worth it because his performance here is the best he's ever given and is sure to be nominated for an Oscar, he captures both the ambition and mental frailty of this once great movie star. Of course Keaton is a perfect fit for this character, an actor out of the spotlight who used to play a comic book character, trying to make his big comeback. Keaton most famously played Batman back in the late 80's/early 90's and "Birdman" certainly acknowledges that as it acknowledges big franchises like "The Hunger Games", "X-Men" and "The Avengers". The film jokes about big blockbuster movies but never comes across as insulting, and some of the lines about said topic do make you think about the current state of Hollywood. Riggan constantly dismisses the fact that he strives for relevance in this world that has already forgotten him.
Emma Stone plays the rebellious daughter of Riggan and she too is worthy of a statue, this is most definitely the performance of her career. Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and even Zack Galifianakis turn in absolutely fantastic performances. Norton plays the big star who is cast at last minute and tries to take command of Riggan's stage and makes things very difficult. His character could have easily just have come off as the pushy and brash actor but the film really develops his character, giving him an unexpected amount of depth. He feels like he's acting in the real world, but when he gets on stage, that's the real him.
Riggan grows evermore doubtful of his production as opening night draws closer and closer and more things start to go wrong. His daughter starts using drugs again, his girlfriend might be pregnant and his co-star's method integrity may destroy the entire show.
"Birdman" (the character) is the voice inside Riggan's head, assuring him that he's better than he thinks, that he can do anything because he is in fact "Birdman". Riggan begins to move objects with his mind and its left up to us to decide whether or not he's imagining it or he is in fact a superhero, and the finale of the film definitely doesn't make anything clear, the ending may be almost too ambiguous for some to handle. We're never quite sure what's real, some of the more outlandish sequences (Riggan flying through New York being one of them) are dismissed in the film but we never can be fully sure.
As I mentioned before, the film deals heavily with the theme of duality, at times even personified with the character of "Birdman" appearing behind Riggan and speaking into his ear. Each character is dealing with a psychological split especially Riggan and Mike Shiner (Norton). The Mise-En-Scene is thoroughly thought through, with imagery and metaphors appearing subtly throughout the film.
The movie itself feels like a stage play, and its a perfectly orchestrated piece of film. All of the actors do a tremendous job with all of their lines in the long takes that they have to perform in.
"Birdman" is filmmaking at its very finest, the script is witty, filled with caustic dialogue and it always feels natural. The cinematography is some of the best I've ever seen, Lubezki has outdone himself and may take home the Oscar again this year (He won Best Cinematography for "Gravity" last year). The entire cast and crew push themselves to the absolute limit to deliver this straight up masterpiece. It's relentlessly inventive and takes risks at every possible opportunity, this is one of the most original films in recent years.
Without a doubt "Birdman" is my favorite film of 2014, it left me completely satisfied, which as a critic, is something very few films do. I give "Birdman" my highest recommendation, to me it is a flawless film and believe me, I was looking for any moment this film slipped up, but this is an impeccable piece of art.