Movie Review: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Director: Alejandro Inarritu
Reviewed: 9 November 2014
I have so much good will built up for Michael Keaton that Birdman, Alenadro Inarritu's psychological exploration into the winding mind of a former caped crusader turned Broadway actor, just worked for me on multiple levels. Keaton is a smash as Riggan, struggling actor and father, desperately trying to finish his theatrical debut in an adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story. Yet, Riggan is haunted by his own demons, represented in a wonderful conceit by Inarritu, as he stalks the hallways and back alleys and rooftops of the theater in long, mostly unbroken takes. Riggan works with his cast including Lesley (Naomi Watts) and her boyfriend, the mercurial Mike (Edward Norton), as well as his lawyer Jake (Zach Galifianakis) and his daughter Sam (Emma Stone).
The film's mysteries are best left unexplored in this review as to not spoil the sheer joy of the film, but I found it exhilarating and incredibly fun. Everyone is delivering top-notch performances here with Keaton and Norton as standouts. There's magical realism, meta-Hollywood commentary, an abrasive New York Times Theater Critic, a treatise about the cinema versus the stage, a madcap run through Times Square, and more than enough to chew on after the film ends. I think the film has lived on in my imagination because of many of Inarritu's choices with the soundtrack, the unbroken nature of much of the film, and the breaking of conventions and expectations, in addition to its performances.
One of the reasons I go to the cinema is to be overwhelmed and surprised and amazed, and all of those descriptions apply to this film. The less I knew (and the less you know) about it, the better.
Birdman is one of the best films of the year.