Read the Review by Keith Cheatham
Birdman, flying high on the critic’s radar, most nominated film at the Oscars this year, and it’s easy to see why. Birdman is an outstanding film, with great acting, directing, writing and cinematography.
The film stars Michael Keaton as Riggan Thompson a past his prime actor of superhero film Birdman. Riggan is going through a midlife crisis dealing with being out of people consciousness sense Birdman, wanting to be remembered and loved for something more, something great. Which is the film’s biggest theme and strong point.
Riggan appears to suffer from schizophrenia or another undiagnosed mental disorder, evident by the Birman persona that haunts Riggan throughout the film. We join Riggan on the set of a play that he has written and is directing and starring in. And not all is well. Keaton’s co-stars Edward Norton and Emma Stone show exceptional performances as, Mike, Riggan's co-star in the play and Riggan’s daughter. Both of whom with their exceptional performances drive home the theme of acceptance and wanting to acquire love. The greatest asset to the film is it being filmed as one continuous shot.
Alejandro Iñárritu is in top form here as director as there are no edits that you can see, and the story and action is continuous in that we follow Keaton's character throughout the film. Because of this we are seeing him in real time, going from one happenstance to the next and we truly feel the build of tension as control escapes Riggan's grasp. The best use of this continuous shoot though is when the director allows the camera to turn away from the action, staring down a hall or going out a window only to come back hours later, creating a sense that time is slipping away making the tension and Riggan's desperation even greater as the film draws closer to Riggan's play’s opening night.
It is a bizarre tale, that is very surreal, yet very true to human nature and what one person will do to try to gain the acceptance of everyone else. And serves double as a cautionary tale of the dangers of needing to be loved by all. As a warning, the film does end in a bizarre open-ended manner which only serves to drive Riggan’s view of reality home but could leave the average viewer a bit agitated.
Birdman gets 3.5 out of 4 stars.