What happens when an actor playing a superhero falls on hard times and reverts to Broadway in order to revive his stalled career? In 1989, Michael Keaton played Batman and since then has been relegated to mostly voice-over gigs in animation hits like Jack Frost, Cars and Toy Story 3.
So, it would suffice to say that reality has blurred the lines with a movie plot superbly written and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (known for his work on Babel and 21 grams). González Iñárritu’s directing along with Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s (Oscar winner for Gravity) and the sublime acting talents of Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton and Naomi Watts make this film one of the most intriguing, suspenseful, mind-blowing films I have seen in a while.
When we meet Riggan (Michael Keaton), he is attempting to reinvent himself as a director by staging a retelling of a classic Broadway play called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver. The events leading up to the premiere unravel one disaster after another when the original lead actor is injured. Riggan scrambles to find a replacement, but the replacement proves to be exactly who he needs – a method actor who takes the job way too seriously. If that weren’t enough, Riggan is struggling with voices of his alter-ego/superhero persona “Birdman”, relationships with his girlfriend, ex-wife and a daughter…fresh out of rehab.
There isn’t a false note or move by ANY of these actors. Ironically enough, Emma Stone (who is also known for being the on-screen girlfriend of Spiderman from time to time) portrays Riggan’s daughter Sam with such gritty realism and venom that she makes you feel sorry for her and hate her all at the same time. I smell an Oscar nod for this brilliantly under-estimated ingenue.
Edward Norton realistically brings to life Mike. For those of us from Broadway and the theatre, we are all too familiar with these type of actors. They would rather sabotage the production value of a show for the sake of their ridiculous/unrealistic artistic integrity. Bravo Ed…Bravo!!!!
Naomi Watts is heartbreakingly effective as the actress making her Broadway debut under the most stressful circumstances imaginable and in the midst of it all desperately clinging to her dream of having a memorable opening night. Equally, heartbreaking is Andrea Riseborough as Laura, Riggan’s girlfriend who suffers from the insecurity that her relationship will fail as soon as the next pretty face comes along.
I loved this film!!! Can you tell? I especially loved the realism it brings to the way these events really unfold while trying to mount a production on Broadway, the creative seamless movement from one scene to another that keeps you entranced and how everyone is 100% committed to telling the story and leaving their egos at the door.
Birdman is in theaters now and will be worth every cent you spend to check it out.