My Review: Birdman

Photo: Chris White

In the spirit of The Oscars this evening, I thought I’d give you my review of one of the nominees: Birdman. I just finished watching the film on Saturday night because I’ve been torn. Part of me wanted to see it, the other part of me didn’t.

Alejandro Iñárritu’s film delves into the story of Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), an actor who played the main character in a blockbuster movie series called Birdman. Fast forward 20 years later. Thomson is washed up, on the brink of bankruptcy and is looking to make a comeback. He chooses something he’s never done before: writing, directing and starring in a Broadway play – an adaptation of Raymond Carver’s story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” In the days leading up to his play’s debut, Riggan runs into all sorts of problems: one of the actors in the play suffers a major injury while on set and threatens to sue, the person chosen to fill the injured actor’s place, Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), is pretty tough to work with and Riggan must try to impress a New York Times critic who isn’t very fond of him to begin with. All of this while Riggan has to manage some personal issues as well, including his ego and his relationship with his daughter, Sam (Emma Stone). Perhaps Riggan’s biggest battle of all is against his own insecurities and a “voice of truth” inside his head in the form of his Birdman character that drives him to the edge.
All I can say is: I got it but I didn’t get it. I got that Birdman was story about a washed up actor trying to be relevant in an entertainment world that has changed alongside the real world. I also got that the film was partly a satire on the entertainment industry. Beyond that, I just didn’t get it. On the positive side, the acting was terrific. Brilliant, in fact. It felt as if I was watching a totally unscripted documentary – like all the characters and performances came naturally to the cast. Another positive was on the technical end. The filming and cinematography were both well done. Birdman was filmed and edited in such a way to make it look like one continuous shot. It added a unique aspect to the film but, fair warning, it’s probably not for those with motion sickness – no seriously.
Birdman just wasn’t my cup of tea. The film was two hours worth of confusion, fights – both verbal and physical – and the occasional monologue that tended to come off as more babbling than anything else. If I’d been a professional film critic or an actor, I think I would have enjoyed Birdman more. I tried to like the film, but I found myself daydreaming or looking at my phone instead.
I Give It A: D+

Check Out The Trailer Here

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