Riggan (Michael Keaton) is the star of a series of superhero films, the Birdman of the title, but he wants to be known for more than that. He wants to be respected as an actor. So he has adapted the work of Raymond Carver into a play. He is also directing and staring in this play. And it is about to open on Broadway.
He is also plagued by his Birdman alter-ego, it talks to him. He believes he can levitate, can move things with his mind. Is he going mad? And will he ever reconnect with his daughter. She is recovering from drug addiction and is working as his assistant on the play.
Things are not going to plan. His co-star is injured one rehearsal and so they call in a replacement. Mike (Edward Norton) is a method actor, the partner (boyfriend/husband Im not sure) of one of the female leads, and a bit of an asshole. He believes that truth is the only thing worth anything, and the only truth is to be found on stage.
It is a fascinating film.
Really really worth watching. Keaton is great. Worth going to see the film for him alone. But the rest of the cast don’t let him down in any respect. They’re all great.
The film will not be to everyone’s taste though. I’m sure some people may find it boring and pretentious, saying nothing but waffling on. I can sort of see how you might come away with that, but I loved it. It isn’t really a film about superheroes, or superhero culture, it is a story about family and who you are. About how you change. About what love is.
So yeah, it is kinda pretentious I guess, but also not, because it is trying to figure stuff out. Trying to make some sort of sense rather than just telling the viewer the makers know all about this important shit, don’t you?
It is also strangely claustrophobic, which I’m guessing is partly due to the long single take style of shooting, but also because it is inside the world of a theater, with very little other scenes. It is in this tiny part of a huge city, and you so seldom see the sky. It is oppressive because Riggan is oppressed by life in general, and by his past and his family, and this damn play, and people laughing at him, and him not being somebody.
I could have done with a little less drum in the film’s soundtrack, but that’s a small thing to complain about, so I won’t.