‘Birdman’ is an unconventional film, crafted with a very specific audience in mind: actors, writers and critics. Perhaps it’s safe to include artists in general under this umbrella. But for everyone, this certainly is not.
If you consider yourself a casual moviegoer then best to look away now; you probably won’t find what your looking for in ‘Birdman’. However, if you are excited by different, odd, visually subversive filmmaking, keep reading.
Director Alejandro Iñárritu tells the tale of a washed-up Hollywood celebrity actor turned Broadway wannabe, Riggan Thomson, played by Michael Keaton, as he struggles to get his first show off the ground while dealing with alcoholism and a troubling father-daughter relationship.
Iñárritu directs with a deft hand, making the complex manoeuvring of actors within what amounts to the illusion of a single take appear effortless.
The talent helps, of course, with Keaton commanding the entire film from start to finish. None of the actors drop a beat. Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakas and Naomi Watts all contribute great performances, acting off one another with astounding believability.
Yet to call the cinematography great too would be a terrible understatement; it rivals Keaton’s performance as the defining feature of ‘Birdman’. Emmanuel Lubezki paints Iñárritu’s canvas with the affinity of a well-worn glove.
There is much to be said about the deeper themes of the film, which is intrinsically a film about actors, made for actors by actors. The hollowness of the Hollywood celebrity lifestyle and the perhaps blurry divide between stage and spectator are chief among these (the film as a whole has a strange dreamlike quality to it, rendering the audience itself in a drunken stupor similar to Keaton’s character) but none of these would work without the expertise of the filmmakers in front of and behind the camera, especially Iñárritu.
It’s not often a film this quirky gets made and released to quite such a wide audience but ‘Birdman’ is a reminder of how odd is not always such a bad thing.
READ: Daniel’s Review