The masterful ‘Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)’ is an experience that will profoundly resonate. From its pristine writing, to its carefully constructed direction and cinematography, to its genius casting and performances, ‘Birdman’ is just a dream of a movie.
The film tells the story of Riggan (Michael Keaton), a washed up actor who used to play a superhero icon called Birdman. In a valiant attempt to reclaim his career, he adapts, directs, and stars in a Broadway play. With problems from one of his very method actors (Edward Norton), assistant daughter (Emma Stone), emotional co-star (Naomi Watts), overly sexual girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough), flamboyant producer (Zach Galifanakis), and loving ex- wife (Amy Ryan), Riggan prepares for the breaking point of his career. This film eerily serves as a somewhat personal film to Michael Keaton, giving the mere fact that he was known for playing Batman, a comic book hero similar to Birdman. Keaton is an actor that proved time and time again that he can play virtually anything from heavy and hard hitting dramatic roles to silly and funny comedic roles.
At 63, Michael Keaton has been almost criminally underutilized in his career, despite some iconic performances. In this role he fires on all cylinders, you feel the accuracy and precision in which he executes every move and mannerism of Riggan. It’s the role that Keaton has been waiting decades for. It’s the role of his career.
‘Birdman’ is brilliant, it charms not just because of its story, but also because of it’s performances. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu has given us some new age classic films in the past. Birdman is no exception and, to be honest, this very well may be his masterpiece. This will move him up in the ranks with the Scorsese’s, Spielberg’s, and Eastwood’s. The film is downright hilarious at parts, but then there’s dramatic edge that comes into play, and simply breaks your heart.
Emmanuel Lubezki is the overall genius of this film. You can’t watch a movie shot by the Academy Award winning Cinematographer and not find yourself more intimately contained and available to the realm of the movies. Just one year after stunning us with “Gravity,” Lubezki allows the audience to be in the movie. We are present in every scene, every movement, and every thought that a person is having. We feel as though Riggan and the cast are interacting with us. When they’re laughing, we’re laughing, when they’re crying, we’re crying. His cinematography is like nothing else I have seen – spectacular.
Overall, I could go on and on about this film and just how great it is but nothing of what I say here can really do Birdman justice. It is a film that you need to experience for yourself. Iñárritu’s beauty works on us from the inside-out. It’s a human story, comedy, thriller, mystery, all rolled into one.