The Oscars just wrapped up as I am writing this review. The winner of Best Picture (among other awards) went to the very deserving Birdman. Because of this and the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed the film I decided to make it the subject of my review this month.
Birdman is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Iñárritu is known for his films Babel and 21 Grams. Iñárritu is a Mexican born film director who started out as a DJ in Mexico City. He went on to become involved in television and then filmmaking. His films have quickly gained attention and reward.
Birdman stars Michael Keaton as Riggan Thomson, the once relevant actor now desperately seeking a comeback. This comeback happens to be in the form of a Broadway production of Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love written and directed by Thomson himself. Starring in this play is his love interest Laura (Andrea Riseborough), Lesley (Naomi watts) and hotshot method actor Mike (Edward Norton). Some of Thomson’s deepest insecurities we see illustrated by his talks with alter ego character Birdman and through his daughter, recently out of rehab and bitter, played by Emma Stone. There is also a fantastic performance by Zach Galifianakis who plays the production manager, constantly struggling to keep the actors in line and the play from breaking down.
Some of my favorite things about this film:
This film is very reminiscent to me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s storytelling style even more specifically “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings”. Marquez makes use of a technique called magical realism which basically means that the world in which the story takes place seems real enough besides some crazy things that occur. So the world that Birdman takes place in seems pretty legit, except for the fact that Riggan can levitate…and fly. But his character isn’t super, he is sad and old. I could go on about this for quite a while, but I will refrain.
The way this movie was filmed is definitely one of the best and most unique things about it. It seems to be in one continuous shot from the beginning to end. This was achieved through very long takes which made it very difficult to get right for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki . Some of my favorite scenes are which the camera films a hallway or doorway and nothing is happening and there is a moment of awkwardness until Keaton comes into the shot. Or when the camera suddenly appears on the roof and there is this sudden openness as you emerge from the closed in feeling of the theater.
I don’t have any criticism for the film. I think it was an adventure that is entertaining while considering large topics like mortality and what it is to actually have a legacy. Birdman seamlessly tells the story of an attempt at redemption, a broken family, complicated romance and through all this stark reality it leaves with the chance of hope. I encourage you all to check it out.