Throughout the 80s Michael Keaton delivered some of the best comedies with Mr. Mom, Night Shift and Beetlejuice, but it was his turn as Batman that cemented him as a pop culture icon. After two turns as the caped crusader he stepped away from the cowl and the limelight. Make no mistake he still delivered a ton of roles, they just didn’t feel like he was around near as much as before. Over the last couple of years he has been popping up in bigger projects again, but none have had the hype as his latest film Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance. The film brings Keaton back to the lead role alongside a great cast including Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone, and Amy Ryan, but does it live up to the strange brilliance of the trailer or will it be time to close the curtain before it ever opens?
Birdman follows a washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero that must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory. While Keaton is far from a washed up actor, there are numerous aspects of this film that mimics his career and he has seemingly embraced it along with this role to deliver the best performance of his career. The trailers to this film are bizarre and fun promising a unique film, but they do not do this film justice. There is so much more here in sheer character study than they let on and that made the experience of the film all that much better. Keaton has stepped into this role and bared his soul with this performance, but not necessarily trying to tell his personal story, but instead just to bring a brilliant performance to the role that forces the rest of the cast to rise up in hopes to stand next to him. Everyone here really brings their best making for some perfectly executed dialogue moments without ever feeling forced or taking you out of the story. The film keeps the majority of it in the theater setting and uses a seemingly single take direction to make you feel like you are actually apart of the production as opposed to just watching the movie. The special effects moments are really well done and fun to watch, but they are secondary to the sheer brilliance of the rest of the film. In addition to his role, Keaton also offers a narration/voice in his head performances in the voice of his Birdman character that could have been annoying like in most films, but is a perfect addition to the story really adding to the turmoil he is fighting with.
There is so much perfection in this film that it is near impossible to give it all the accolades it deserves. This is not only Keaton’s best performance this is easily one of the best films of the year and will hopefully not be forgotten during award season as Keaton deserves nominations all around. Everyday people complain that they want something new and original to come to the big screen and this is that film. Hopefully audiences will back up what they say and go support this brilliant film like it deserves.