Alexander Gonzalez Inarritu has struck gold, and may very well receive a golden statue this upcoming Oscar’s award ceremony, for his brilliant depiction of the plight of the hasbeen action hero actor Riggan (Michael Keaton) , who has a fantastical ‘other life’ in his head. It is this alter ego that parallels the Birdman, the comic book character he was most famous and recognized for, which garnered much admiration in his past life.The entire cast/ensemble is superlative, including Edward Norton; Emma Stone; Zach Galifianakis; Naomi Watts; Amy Ryan; Andrea Riseborough; and LIndsay Duncan. They are all involved in a play on Broadway, very much in the style of John Cassavetes’ cinema verite film noir, based on a story by Raymond Carver, what we did for love, The Unexpected Virtue of Innocence. Keaton and Norton perform in the play which goes 100 lightyears beyond the axiom of Lee Strasberg’s mantra, “be in the moment.”
What goes on in the play and what goes on in the actors’ heads is like watching a boxing match between sparring lovers. This film gives a glimpse of the real gritty Broadway, sans the glitz and glamour, with its dank dressing rooms and morose hallways. The viewer gets a glimpse of the true reality of this so called thing we call stardom.
A most notable scene is when Riggan (Keaton) goes out the stagedoor in his bathrobe, only to get it caught in the door, subsequently gets locked out of the theatre, and walks in the heart of bustling Times Square in his underwear, bombarded by worshipful fans seeking autographs, and camera ready paparazzi. He walks back into the theatre, past the gatekeeper, and saunters onstage to raucous applause. Of particular (and personal) note is a stint with theatre critic Tabitha (Duncan) , who would make any critic think twice about reviewing a show on Broadway. She berates and belittles Riggan, yet holds her own, directly stating to him, “I’m going to destroy you.” Zach Galifianakis delivers a memorable performance as the overbearing, yet underappreciated lawyer. This is the greatest role Michael Keaton has ever played, quite possibly the performance of his lifetime. The flying sequences are surreal, symbolic of the Greek figure Icarus, and a reminder of the film “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner,” in which everything takes place in the head of the angst filled protagonist. As he’s running, or in this case, flying, the whole world and his broken down life flashes before him. The soundtrack of amazing jazz and classical music adds to the film’s enjoyment as well. This extremely deep film is a powerful delineation of the inside world of the theatre and movie industry, delving inside the mind of its tormented participants. This movie needs to enter the world of Oscar.
This screening was produced by the wonderful organization, Film Independent, and produced by Twentieth Century Fox Studios.
In selected theatres nationwide