BIRDMAN – Film Review

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is one of the greatest films starring Michael Keaton. After watching the picture, it is not hard to see why this film won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

An actor named Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) formerly portrayed a superhero in cinema years prior who was known as Birdman. However, these days, Thomson struggles to get any roles, and will do whatever it takes to become a big star once more and relieve his past days of fame.

Before watching Birdman I was extremely excited, as it was one of the rare times that I had not seen the film that won the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards. After watching it, it is extremely clear as to why it won that highly sought after award, as it truly is a masterclass of film.

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Michael Keaton as Riggan Thomson in Birdman (2014)

Keaton delivers one of his best performances of his entire career here as Riggan Thomson. Maybe it is his best. His performance is so raw and vigorous throughout the entire film. Each time we see his character on screen, he looks like he has been through many tough times through his life. We feel genuine sympathy for him throughout Birdman and we the viewer do want him to get a big role again after he portrayed Birdman for so many years.

His character eventually slowly begins to believe that he is quite possibly Birdman in real life, and the role was not really a role at all, but himself. This element of the film was absolutely fascinating, as it gave us insight into how some roles can literally change the life of an actor forever. Few actors can pull off this performance like Keaton, as well. After seeing Birdman, I cannot see anybody else in the role of Riggan Thomson but him.

The script is absolutely brilliant as well. Usually a script written by four people turns out to be a cluttered mess full of different people’s ideas and usually ends up making the film awful when it is released. With Birdman, however, this is luckily not the case. The picture feels so fluid and expertly paced and never drags in a single scene, thanks to Keaton’s unshakeable charisma.

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Emma Stone (left) as Sam Thomson and Edward Norton (right) as Mike Shiner in Birdman (2014)

Another thing I adored about the film is the camera work. Shot by Emmanuel Lubezki (Sleepy Hollow, Gravity) the entire film appears as if it was shot in one whole take. This is absolutely amazing, as so little films these days use this approach. It is also extremely difficult to complete film scenes using one take, as you have to get so many things right, and if one little thing goes wrong, you have to redo the entire scene again, which can be a pain staking and long experience.

It also contains an ending that I found to be chilling and beautifully dark. It is one of those endings that will spark online theories about the true meaning of the film for years to come, and that is always a great thing. I love when the film community comes together as a whole to simply discuss one film, and Birdman, is one of the films that will do that for a long time.

Fueled with brilliant performances and a moving story, Birdman is a vigorous and disturbing look at how certain acting roles can alter human lives forever.

Overall Grade: A+

MPAA Rating: Rated R for language throughout, some sexual content and brief violence

Cast: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough

Directed by: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Running Time: 119 minutes

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