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!