You will have to be a fan of writer/director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s work in order to fully grasp the events in Birdman. While the acting is outstanding and you really feel what each person’s struggle is in life, there are so many things that are just so hard to follow. Yes, Riggin Thompson is a washed up comic book film actor who is trying his hand at stage acting to make sure people do not forget him. Understood. Yes, Riggin hears the voice and can see Birdman, the character he played in those movies. After those two details, understood things about what Riggins can do become blurry. Perhaps he can do them. Perhaps he really can’t. Perhaps Innarritu subtitled this movie “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” because he is talking about the audience member and not his quirky characters.
If anything, give Birdman a watch because the cast is remarkable and someone is bound to get an award nomination. Michael Keaton’s character is peculiar, but he plays Riggin so well that you adore him and feel every pain he faces. Emma Stone is also enjoyable as always, but the true scene-stealer is Edward Norton. The talented actor is not supposed to be the focus of several of his scenes, but with his over the top ridiculous qualities, you just can not help but stare in awe.
The plot to the film is understandable and heartbreaking, especially for those of us who have a background in performance or those of us who feel as if we are suddenly going unnoticed. However, things that happen in the film are hard to figure out because things that seem as if they are going on in someone’s head are then seen by others as reality. Some other things have no distinction either way whatsoever, frustrating the viewer as they try to discover the meaning behind all of the choices in the script. All of these types of things take you out of the film. Instead of seeing the film for a philosophical, heart-wrenching piece of art, it is no more than solid dialogue and a cast of phenomenal actors.
Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Innocence is entertaining, mostly in part to the acting and the midly crazy characters. However, it is hard to enjoy the film because not a lot of actions make complete sense. There are so many blurred lines when it comes to reality that it is hard to let yourself be immersed in the story. It has been mentioned that Innarritu’s other works follow this pattern, and that if you enjoy them then this movie is amazing. Perhaps this is one of those films that just needs a second watch, but that may not be worth the time either.