Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. It stars Michael Keaton as Riggan Thomson, a washed-up Hollywood actor who is famous for starring in the fictional billion-dollar film franchise, Birdman. He quit playing the Birdman after three films, and has lost superstar popularity because of it. The film focuses on him in the midst of the showing of the previews to his Broadway adaption of the Raymond Carter play What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. The film also stars Emma Stone as his daughter, and Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, and Andrea Riseborough as his co-actors and friends.
This movie was immensely entertaining. The ensemble cast is just so perfect in this film. Michael Keaton gives undoubtedly his best performance in a lot of years, Edward Norton is equally as great in a supporting role, Emma Stone gives what probably is her best performance to date, and the rest of the cast also turn out pretty flawless performances. They all bring these crazy individuals to life in the best way possible. It's just so incredibly fun to watch these actors explode on screen.
I quite liked Iñárritu's directing of this film. I find the subtle aspects of it very innovative and brilliant. I liked the way the film was from the perspective of Michael Keaton's character, and how Iñárritu used things other than dialogue and action to show the growing stress and the burden this character was going through. Everything from the set design to the amazing drum only score in the film contributed to that, and those subtle little nuances just worked.
I find it baffling that this film wasn't even nominated for the Best Editing award. It's perhaps the film's most defining attribute. The whole one continuous shot technique, shot by the brilliant Emmanuel Lubezki, was excellent. It captured the whole urgency and frantic nature of the backstage of a stage production, and that worked in favor of showing, as said earlier, the mental state of Keaton's character as well.
I said I quite liked Iñárritu's directing here, so you may be wondering why I'm not going down on my knees and praising his work as perfect to the heavens. Well, as I said, I liked the subtle aspects of it, and unfortunately, that isn't in a lot of this movie.
The movie so obviously comment on too many things. It tries to provide commentary on social media, popularity, blockbuster movies (specifically superhero movies), critics, the news media, etc. I feel as though it jumps from topic to topic, providing commentary on all of them, but nothing with real insight or substance. It can't manage to stay on point on anything, it's just poking fun at topics that it feels so above and better than.
The movie is a bit too heavy handed with its messages as well, which is part of the reason I didn't love one of the scenes towards the ending where Riggan Thomson is having a subconscious argument with his imagination of Birdman. Characters so obviously recite things like personality descriptions, its high and mighty commentary, and themes just so they make sure that the audience doesn't miss it. It really threw me off. There's a scene not long into the movie where Edward Norton tells Michael Keaton's character to rewrite a few lines in his play because it's too repetitive and that the audience will pick up on it with just one line. That's exactly the advice I'd give this movie. Dial it back a little on the heavy handed messages, and just sharpen up your script and focus.
Iñárritu's is very vocal in his commentary, but the way he presented it wasn't very good. Despite that, the acting and the marvelous camera work makes it an immensely entertaining film and one not to miss out on.