Birdman Movie Review
In Birdman, Michael Keaton plays a washed-up actor–best known for playing a superhero in the early 90s–who is staging a comeback. Far from a documentary, however, Birdman is a darkly funny, strange, superbly acted tale about the obsession of fame and dangers of pride.
Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu zips the audience through his movie, set entirely in, around and behind a Broadway playhouse in what is seemingly one long shot. It isn’t, of course, but even as he cuts time, blurs the line between fiction and reality and allows his protagonist to spiral out of control, the single-shot style captures what surely is the frenetic atmosphere behind the scenes of a debuting theater production and amps up the pacing so the audience can rarely catch a breath, resulting in a sensation similar and most likely better than had you decided to hold your breath at the beginning of this sentence.
Beautifully shot and with amazing cinematography, Birdman looks and feels unique, refreshing, even exciting given what is essentially a small story about a few people trying to bring a stage play to life. As the protagonist’s mind begins to degrade, the audience gets to see what is going on in his head. It is… Strange.
The acting is sensational. Michael Keaton is the best he has been in years, though that’s easy to say because it’s the first time I’ve seen him in a movie in years. But truly, this performance has Oscar nomination all over it. Even more impressive is Ed Norton, who delivers one of the best performances of his career.
That’s saying something.
Emma Stone is also terrific in a supporting role.
It’s hard to point to any major faults with the film, though the movie is too strange to appeal to everyone. And frankly, some of the weirder parts of the movie don’t entirely work. They are weird, and they catch your attention, but also don’t seem absolutely necessary. After a while, they become tedious. The ending, too, drags a little too long.
Birdman isn’t perfect, and it isn’t for everyone, but it’s one of the better movies of 2014 and certainly features among the best performances of the year. Ca-caw!
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.