Birdman (2014)

Actors and their egos can create strange things, and is explored in Alejandro Ganzalez Inarritu’s latest film. The director of 21 Grams and Babel leaves the intertwining, nonlinear stories for a single narrative. But does this change in direction make for an Oscar-worthy film?

Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is an actor known for his role in the Birdman superhero movies. Days away from staring and directing in his own adaptation of Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love on Broadway, Riggins starts to be tormented by the voice of Birdman. With extra grief coming from his recovering drug-addict daughter Sam (Emma Stone), critics out to destroy his play and the egos from his fellow actors, will Riggins play ever make it to opening night?

Two times Oscar-nominated Inarritu departs from his usual style with Birdman, and it may be one that could finally get him the Oscar trophy. Birdman is perhaps more straight forward than his other movies but that doesn’t mean he sits back and takes it easy. Birdman is shot in what is seemingly one continuous take, something used in movies such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope, but it never distracts from the film or seems like a gimmick. Instead it gives the film a theatre like aspect as you are following the characters over the days in the lead up to opening night.

Inarritu has embedded his film with several accomplished actors who all gamely have the camera focused on their insecurities and egos. Even without the obvious winks to his Batman films Keaton is great. He is relishing every moment on-screen whether its roaming round New York City in his underwear or battling a half-naked Edward Norton as the fight over the spotlight. Just as Norton’s Mike threatens to steal the show from Riggan, Norton nearly steals the movie away from Keaton as the talented but destructive method theatre actor. His scenes with Stone are particularly good, as are Keaton’s with Stones, that show a bit more depth to their characters than they otherwise appear. Stone herself shows her character has more range than just the despondant daughter with daddy issues and a chip on her shoulder. Be interesting to see who is awarded with Oscar nominations on the night.

The film takes swipes at superhero movies (and their dominance over Hollywood), method actors, and critics alike. While it sometimes verges on being smug the film manages to balance this out with a dark sense of humour throughout. I’m  also not sure about the film’s final shot, and maybe the movie should have ended a bit earlier. Perhaps that’s something to reflect on in a second viewing.

Rating 4/5 – Beautifully shot and brilliantly cast, Birdman is a great Oscar front-runner

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Birdman (2014)

  1. So far Iñárritu has made hard-hitting human dramas, it will be interesting to see how his dark comedy ends up… Can’t wait to see it but got no other choice for now. Brilliant review, Lauren.

  2. It’s a pretty fast and exciting movie. But when it does slow itself down to focus on the characters a bit more, it not only still works, but gets better. Good review Lauren.

  3. Great review, I really like what you said about the one continuous take and I thought it worked very well in this movie, not gimmicky at all. Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see which awards Birdman walks .. I mean flies away with come Oscar night. 🙂

  4. So want to catch this, bt not sure if it will get a release in my part of th world. Good review!
    http://bradscribe.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/what-the-flux/
    Happy New Year Lauren!
    Cheers

  5. Seeing this tomorrow. Will come back tomorrow to read your review properly 🙂

  6. Great post.

    I agree with your review. The film had wonderful cinematography, spot on directing, and top notch acting.

  7. Tom

    I know; that last shot was just such a bizarre way to go out. But then again, thinking back on ‘Birdman’ as a whole, maybe it really fits! Great work Lauren, good to see another fan.

  8. smilingldsgirl

    It’s a well made movie but I wasn’t a big fan. What really bothered me is the misogynistic way it treats its female characters. They are all shrill and awful. I especially hated the critic who seemed a total caricature It’s an ok movie but I do not get the overwhelming love for it and it winning best picture. Needs more character development and beyond just Riggans IMO.

    • I though Boyhood probably should have won but I was thinking that Birdman would appeal to a lot of actors in Hollywood so not surprised it ended up winning in the end.

      • smilingldsgirl

        Yeah I get why Hollywood loves it but the general public not sure why they responded to it. To me it was just ok

      • smilingldsgirl

        I also thought Boyhood should have won but out of the 8 nominees I would have put 7 over Birdman. Sigh…

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