Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

birdmanWinner of the 2015 Oscar for best picture, Birdman’s performances, delivery, and script were exemplary of an Academy Award Winner. Written and directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, he delivers a familiar story in a very original package.

The story centers around Riggan, an actor who is in his later years and trying to prove to himself, the rest of the world as well as his daughter that he’s not a has-been. Part of this struggle lies in his past as he’s experienced greatness as comic book action hero Birdman in a series of successful blockbuster movies. Now, with his glory days behind him, Riggan faces the pressures of putting together a successful play on Broadway, depression, financial issues, and making up for being an absent father to his jaded daughter. Oh and he seems to be a bit schizophrenic (not bi-polar, I know the difference) and he has superpowers.

The film is surreal and amazing to watch. Among the numerous things that I found compelling about Birdman is that the film is shown mostly in one long, continuous shot with very few edits most of which take place at the very end. The transitions used are seemless and the effects shots blend in amazingly smoothly, the film is crafted together in a masterful, clever way. The director and his team knocked it out of the park visually combining slick visuals with snappy pacing matching nicely with some jazzy undertones early on while building more broadly to the films conclusion.

In terms of performances, all the actors were superb with the standouts for me being Michael Keaton and Emma Stone. Keaton as the lead in the role of Riggan delivers on screen in a big way, he’s passionate, broken, emotional and somewhere deep down, trying to be a good person instead of the self-centered bastard people see him for. Stone is Keaton’s bitter daughter working in show-biz as an assistant to her father. Stone’s acting skills shine throughout Birdman in her subtle and not-so-subtle behaviors that amplify her feelings without the use of words. Ed Norton as the hot-shot Broadway actor Mike is fun to watch and makes you wonder just how much of his personality is embodied in his character. The rest of the exceptional lineup includes: Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Jeremy Shamos, and Andrea Riseborough.

Birdman is a challenging, interesting, sad, funny, uplifting film with an ambiguous ending and I would totally recommend seeing it.

Reviewed by Sean McKnight