Birdman (2014) Review

Riggan used to be a big hollywood star as a superhero Birdman. But now he is all washed up, no money and not much hope trying to get his play up and running on Broadway.

We quickly learn that Riggan is not mentally stable, he has an alter ego who tries to tell him what to do with a very gruff and quite frankly amusing tone in the voice. He ridicules Riggan and often pushes him to the limits, the best thing about this is though is that it is not constant throughout the film. It is every now and then when he hits a weak moment and is about to give up. It is used in a smart way to add more depth to the story.

Not only is his career struggling his personal life and relationships are pretty awful. His daughter Sam is working as his assistant after a stint in rehab and they barely talk to each other, expect about the tasks he gets her to do. It’s unclear whether he is properly in a relationship with an actress involved in the play, or if it was just a casual thing. But that’s not massively important but the way he responds to her is. He’s just not bothered.

The scenes of rehearsal for the play and preview nights show that Riggan really wants (and needs) it all to work. A new challenge arises when Mike joins the cast, while he is a brilliant stage actor he brings many problems. Another person to push Riggan closer to the edge.

That is a good overview of the story without spoiling anything, just painting the picture. The film is rather complex and has some moments you need to see for yourself to help with your opinion of it all.

The thing with this type of film you must have a strong cast (check) and they must all put in amazing performances (check). Michael Keaton is utterly breathtaking from start to finish, he deserves all of the praise and plaudits coming his way for this. It is a brave choice and he really puts everything into this role. But I could not help but draw parallels to Keaton’s own career, he was of course Batman and has not been in any really big films for a long time now. I am not at all saying he is mental and crazy, just that he doesn’t get these leading roles anymore. So pleased he has with this one though!

As far as supporting cast go, Edward Norton can always be relied on for a top quality performance and he is no different in this film. Works well with not only Keaton but Watts and Stone. He must just be one of those actors who is always impressive. Emma Stone continues to impress, she had a difficult challenge with her character in this film but showed good range in something a little bit different. Naomi Watts has made up (a little bit) for that awful accent in St. Vincent with a good performance. I must also mention Zach Galifianakis who proves that he can act and play a straight character without having to be the stupid one, I think that was an added bonus.

Don’t get me wrong though I left the cinema feeling a little bit confused about what I had just witnessed. Not in a bad way but some of it does mess with your mind, it plays with you and makes you wonder what is real and what isn’t. I think it is going to be one of those films which will stay in your mind for a few days. What a great film to start off 2015!

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18 thoughts on “Birdman (2014) Review

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  1. love your review.. I saw this film way back in September and I remember walking into the elevator with a group of people after the screening & we were just all awestruck & they asked me what I thought of it.. I answered ‘fucking brilliant’ as I’d never seen anything like that before. Michael Keaton & Producer John Lesher were doing the Q & A afterwards and gave such fun insight into it.. Since then I’ve seen it twice more..once again where Michael Keaton & this time Alfonso Inarritu and once at just a Oscar screening..simply put..I love the film..I love Keaton & Norton in it.. 😀

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  2. I HAVE!! it’s probably made me love it even more so..though 1 screening I went with a friend and he didn’t really like it.. we are no longer friends..hahahahah j/k we are & usually we agree on films..ah well.. 😀

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  3. Saw it this very afternoon and I liked it… mostly. The camera-work is a sort of proscenium preventing audience immersion, but that makes sense with the material. There is definitely a good chunk of Black Swan going on, with dashes of Fight Club, The Shining and even Mulholland Dr. (or at least that’s the only reason I can think of for the girl-on-girl interlude with Naomi Watts).

    My main gripe is that I just didn’t think the central meta-gimmick was enough to hang the film on – a lot of the commentary on celebrity culture was pretty trite and unsubtle. I would’ve enjoyed it more if it had ditched the “Jeez Dad, you aren’t even on Twitter” stuff and really gone for the full absurdist approach, focusing on the theatre action. Also – and I think this may really be down to the direction, going off his previous films – it isn’t nearly as funny as it could/should have been.

    Ed Norton was fab and Keaton was pretty good too (if a bit stretched at times), though I thought Emma Stone was the standout. I agree that Galafinakis was a pleasant addition – I don’t usually enjoy his schtick.

    I’ve never really liked much of Inarritu’s stuff before – even Amores Perros, which everyone seems to love, but I especially disliked Babel (apart from the lovely soundtrack).

    Speaking of soundtrack, I think the music – the drumming especially – is worth a mention; unusual but very effective.

    Anyway, nice review!

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    1. Thanks for the insight on how you found the film. Thinking about Babel now makes me head hurt, one of the strangest and most confusing films I have ever seen.

      Love your thoughts on it though as different to what I have been reading so far. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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