Rental Corner: “Birdman” insanely amazing
There are so many questions that left me with “Birdman” and that is a good thing. It makes me want to watch it again and again to see if there was anything I missed or hidden clues that could provide some answers. Rare has a movie given me this feeling to understand the world of Riggan Thomas (Michael Keaton) and everyone around him as well as his psyche. This is straight up a film that is well shot, well made and handled with care with next to little flaws. In many ways, this is a perfect movie, but why is that?
Michael Keaton plays a washed up actor named Riggan Thomas whose only work is for playing a superhero named Birdman and its many blockbuster sequels. To reclaim his fame, he plans to write, direct and star in an adapted play he hopes will succeed big on Broadway. Unfortunately, problems rise as he tries to get his plan underway from not one but many complications and here is where the movie really shines. First up, he has a troublesome relationship with his daughter (Emma Stone) and girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough) who try to be the reason of sanity despite the fact her little girl is a pothead and his love life is a wreck. It gives the implication that settling down and trying to a have can take its tough turns when it comes to loving another but also trying to be a respectable father.
If that wasn’t bad enough, more stress comes in the form of a method actor played by Edward Norton who feels like he is trying to steal Riggan’s authority and respect. Instead of a brat, Norton’s character is violate and brutal as he seeks every aspect to sabotage Riggan’s reputation from nearly violating one of the actress during a sex scene during a preview performance to even flirting with his own girl. When these two butt heads and fight, we feel like two titanic actors from different times going at each other. Keaton being the old style keeping things simple and delicate while Norton is a look at the modern view of actors that soak up the attention. Not every scene is a fight as once in a while they will have a sit and down chat to show they are human despite their differences.
But the icing on the cake is the character of Riggan. As explained before, he played a superhero and this mentality comes back to haunt him in the form of an inner voice that constantly beats him up. When it comes on, we feel like its a commentary of what true actors fear the most. Trying to avoid an image they don’t wish to be recognized with. Riggan is tormented with the fan aspect to the point he flops between letting it be to becoming a nuisance. Should we let actors get a second chance to show their full capability or let them jump back into a clown suit just to entertain us? It also gets better when we see him use a lot of levitation powers and telekinesis to the point we start to question if Riggan is really crazy or does he actually have super powers? A question that is left on a hook so ambiguous that I almost shouted “GENIUS” at my television screen.
“Birdman” feels like a trip into the actor’s mind as we start to question the inner demons as well the blocks of his life. What does he wish to achieve and what does he want to do? I felt this movie was a perfect representation of that as the troubles of Riggan and the world around cave in to the point that even the character questions what worth does he have when many see him as this popular icon he was once known for. A big strength is the cinematography as the whole movie feels like it was filmed in one long shot. If Alfred Hitchcock was alive, I bet he would be asking how that was accomplished. The whole movie is edited in a way that literally leaves you on the edge with rarely as a single cut away as things transition from one scene to the next and day becomes night. For a near 2 hour movie, it feels like a week goes by and that is how life feels like almost at times when you think about.
There is really nothing more I can say about “Birdman.” Its hands down a near flawless movie. The only negatives I can think of is that some people might not understand the “artsy” angle or understand some aspects like Riggan’s powers and such. I say this is film that is great on all levels from acting, cinematography and story. Very rarely do we journey inside the mind of an actor and this truly presents the hardships and rewards . Even by the end, I still wasn’t sure if Riggan was bat-crazy or just a real superhero among a few other questions. Maybe this will all lead up to “Birdman Returns” but perhaps that is just a pipe dream that deserves to be as a dream and nothing more. Keaton is Keaton and that is how I want to remember him as.