Full Title: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Starring: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough
Directed By: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Written By: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 59 mins
There’s quite a few epic superhero scale battles going on here in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance). To start with, we have Riggan (Michael Keaton) as the aging actor, once famous for playing the iconic superhero, Birdman. Battling to find himself, rediscover his family, and bring meaning to his career by financing, directing and starring in his own Broadway play. This in turn leads to a discussion about the theatre and acting as art versus the seemingly shallow offerings from Hollywood. And how weird is it that Keaton, once famous for playing Batman, is here, in this? Is this some crazy Hollywood introspective therapy session? Is Keaton okay? Can we expect to see Robert Downey Jr. in Birdman 2 in a few years?
In a way, I thought of this movie as a marriage counselor working with these two theatrical worlds. Someone saying ‘hey, look, you both have your strengths, so can’t we all get along?’ Because this movie, incredibly, is like a blend of the two. Its single camera, single shot style acts like a fly on the wall, recording live events as they happen. This is a stage play, about the creation of a stage play, by a man trying to reconcile his past glories, and we the movie going audience get to watch the drama unfold.
This style of film making incredibly doesn’t ever feel gimmicky or overused either, as Alejandro González Iñárritu never gets too carried away with the idea. The camera serves the really great script, moves when it’s time to find another element in this drama, and stays put when it’s time to focus on the film’s superb cast. Michael Keaton’s performance is almost certainly going to get some attention during the next award season, as will Edward Norton’s, and maybe even Emma Stone’s.
This is a quirky little film, and its style may take a little getting used to at first. Just remember you’re the fly on the wall watching this drama take place. The movie is rated R for language, limited sexual content and violence.
This is a great looking film, shot in and around Times Square in New York City, so I suggest you see this in a theater. At home a HD viewing on your TV is recommended. I wouldn’t suggest you watch this on anything portable.
Best Moment: << mild spoiler >>
Keaton’s performance is one of the best I’ve seen this year, and there’s a moment where he loses his cool in his dressing room, that’s just mesmerizing. Seemingly using his Birdman powers (or is he?) to throw and destroy objects with his mind!