Birdman review

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Michael Keaton
Emma Stone
Zach Galifianakis
Naomi Watts
Edward Norton
Rated: R

“Birdman” was once a famous box-office powerhouse at the movie theaters but lately has fallen out of the public’s eyes in this new film from director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

The man who played the superhero Birdman, Riggan (Keaton) has fallen out of the eyes of many, too, as he hasn’t made a hit movie in years. To get himself back on top he decides to direct and star in a play in New York City. Problems arise, though, as he has to deal with his daughter Sam (Stone) who has just gotten out of rehab and an actor (Norton) who does things his way or the highway.

Birdman is a film that has a lot of depth in both its story and characters, and both subjects are thoroughly explored. What makes the film great is that not only are the various characters and their subplots interesting, they also make statements on a number of topics.

The movie is an exploration of what happens to an actor when it seems like they are past their prime, the conflict between today’s big budget action films and small indies, actors who have an ego they’re trying to escape and the viewpoint from critics of art. The study of these topics throughout the film are also done in a very solid way, using very sharp, witty and emotional dialogue.

The acting in the film is “A+” across the board. Michael Keaton of course deserves the most significant amount of praise as he gives a career defining performance.

What makes Keaton’s performance so good is the aggressiveness he brings to the role. His character comes off as raw, honest and real, which is exactly what the character he was playing needed. Keaton also helps the film by being in the scenes where the Birdman persona is on screen, adding a very edgy side to the picture.

Praise should also be given to Edward Norton, who turned in an energetic, intense acting job. The character he plays takes everything he does far too seriously and Norton is perfect in the portrayal.

Emma Stone also deserves credit for her performance as Riggan’s troubled daughter. The character could easily have been simply an annoyance, but the script and Stone’s performance make it compelling.

The acting, characters and story are aided by phenomenal camera work, too.

Director Iñárritu gives the film a distinct style by filming the entire movie in one continuous shot. The lack of any cuts or edits (from what it looks like on screen), make the film seem continuous and it never gives the audience a chance to catch their breath. It really works in this fast paced flick.

The only problem that the movie may have is the very final shot of the entire film. In my humble opinion, I would have preferred for the movie to end a few frames differently. That being said, though, the ending can still be left open to a lot of interpretation making this a minor flaw.

Overall, “Birdman” is without a doubt one of, if not the best movie of 2014. 5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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