Birdman [aka Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)]
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris,Armando Bo
Cast: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough, Edward Norton, Merritt Wever, Amy Ryan, Lindsay Duncan
Seen on: 26.02.2015
[Here’s my first review.]
Riggan (Michael Keaton) came to fame for playing superhero Birdman when he was younger. Now he’s a little washed-up and desperately trying to reclaim his former glory by mounting a play based on Raymond Carver‘s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. This is made slightly more difficult by the fact that Riggan lost his second lead actor only days before opening night, that the replacement hired – Mike (Edward Norton) – is horrible to work with and that New York’s most important critic Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) hates Riggan. Not to forget, there’s also Riggan’s family, especially his daughter Sam (Emma Stone) who is trying to get back on her feet after rehab. But probably worst of all: in his head, Riggan can hear Birdman constantly berating him.
Re-watching the film, I might have focused on its weaknesses a little more than the first time round, but it’s still a very strong film that entertained me a lot.
I think the most notable changes in my viewing experience were, one that the soundtrack with its incessant drumming annoyed me a little more than it did the first time. And two, that I liked the ending much less. Or, that I liked everything about the ending until that very last shot of Emma Stone looking up, not down because, leaving aside the romanticization of mental illness making you fly, it is at odds with my interpretation of the Birdman being the emodiment of Regan’s psychological breakdown (or it means that Sam also suffers from a mental breakdown).
And the thing is – if the Birdman isn’t a psychological issue, suddenly the film becomes less smart, less complex and much more offensive in its portrayal of the theater world, from actors to critics. But it is only one shot that really questions that reading of the plot and I will continue to ignore it and stick with my version that makes the film really good.
What I appreciated at least equally as much as the last time was the cast. Every single one of them is so great that it gave me goosebumps more than once. I think that I liked all of them even better now, particularly Zach Galifianakis: he is just a scene stealer (who slowly but surely works his way into the same category I keep James Franco in: as long as it isn’t a dudebro-stoner-offensive humor-comedy, I will gladly watch anything they’re in).
Of course, the beautfiul long shots have lost none of their charm and the camera work is generally something special. As is the film.