“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” may be the best example of the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominees and the committee that votes on them. Unless you are a white, middle-aged man or someone who is really, really into method acting, it’s hard to find something to connect with in this film. That being said, what director Alejandro González Iñárritu has created is a unique, and entertaining take on the white male, mid-life crisis.
Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is a Hollywood actor whose glory days, as an action star in the “Birdman” blockbuster series, are far behind him. In an attempt to reinvent himself, and restart his career embarks on an ill-advised venture to star in and direct a play on Broadway. Unfortunately, Birdman isn’t an easy role to shed. Especially when Riggan starts suffering from possibly hallucinated conversations with his fictional alter-ego.
As the film progresses, the line between reality and fantasy becomes increasingly blurred. Riggan struggles to hold on to his sanity as the pressures of mounting a Broadway show continue to pile on. To make matters worse, Riggan is also dealing with his daughter, a recovering drug addict, who is also his assistant (Emma Stone), a talented, but co-star (Edward Norton), a commitment-ready girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough), who is also in the play, and his best friend/lawyer/producer (Zach Galifianakis).
It’s enough to drive anyone crazy. Although, whether it drives Riggan crazy, is up to you. The film never fully explains whether Riggan’s increasingly vivid conversations with Birdman are in his head or real, and the end will definitely leave you guessing.
In spite of it’s incredibly heavy subject matter, and depressed leading man, “Birdman” is a surprisingly funny movie. It never takes the “troubles” of its star too seriously, in fact, it has a nice healthy dose of perspective, offered mostly by his daughter.
Michael Keaton is perfect as Riggan Thomson. It’s easy to see the similarities between the two, and Keaton uses that to his advantage. While it’s a funny film, Keaton never plays for laughs, and that’s part of what makes the movie work. The sheer ridiculousness of the events that unfold, and the “drama” that occurs is enough to sell the humor, and Keaton lets it.
While “Birdman” is not necessarily a film I can see myself watching again, it is worth watching. If you’re a fan of Michael Keaton, realism, and good acting, you’ll enjoy this Oscar nominated flick.
…just for fun: