From Alejandro González Iñárritu, director of Babel and Biutiful, comes Birdman, a startling and captivating film following the story of one man’s madness, mystique and misery, and his twisted attempt at recovery.
Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton), once known for his role as the cinema superhero Birdman, decides, in an attempt to revive his lifeless career, to produce an ambitious Broadway play to prove his worth to the increasingly doubtful public. Opening night draws nearer and the pressure is mounting, and the arrival of his new cast mate Mike (Edward Norton) only shatters what little sanity they have left. Riggan’s defiant daughter (Emma Stone), his fellow cast member and girlfriend Laura (Andrea Riseborough), and Mike’s unsettled girlfriend Lesley (Naomi Watts) all wreak further havoc for the troubled Riggan and, in the lead-up to the first performance, force him to confront his demons head-on.
Keaton’s recent absence from the leading roles he was once known for is forgotten with his astoundingly powerful performance as Riggan. Enrapturing you in his ambitions and fluctuating ego right from the first scene, Keaton performs to a standard not easily matched. Norton, too, is outstanding and is perfectly suited to the role of the arrogant Mike, portraying him with a sly humorous side that so flawlessly rounds out the film.
Stone, Watts and Riseborough are all superb in their roles; Stone’s intensity gives the film a greater depth, Watts, as Lesley, further showcases her boundless talents, and Riseborough beautifully captures Laura’s magnetism without crossing the line into cliché. Also giving small yet memorable performances are Amy Ryan as Riggan’s ex-wife, Zach Galifianakis as his friend and producer of the play, and Lindsay Duncan as the bitter theatre critic who holds the fate of the play in her hands.
Consisting of drum beats intertwined with classical music, the soundtrack is appropriately bleak with intense and ominous undertones, an unexpectedly fitting choice to contrast with the fast pace of the feature. Filmed in continuous, sweeping shots with few visible cuts, Birdman draws you into the wild uncertainty of Riggan’s world with a claustrophobic madness. Although, at times, the myriad of themes get entangled in one another in an overwhelming whirlwind of emotions, Birdman is a dazzling masterpiece that will undoubtedly leave a prominent mark on cinematic history.