Birdman is a new drama/comedy film which comes directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and stars Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton and Amy Ryan. Birdman follows the story of Riggan (Michael Keaton) who is a washed up actor that once had immense fame playing Birdman, which was once a major superhero film. But now years later struggles with life, his relationships and his career as he hasn’t had many major roles for some time.
Birdman is one of my favourite movies of 2014, it’s so intriguing and well made that I’m certain it’s going to get many award nominations when the Oscar season comes around. What stands out the most when you’re watching this film is the particularly long takes that Alejandro González Iñárritu chose to shoot his scenes in. You don’t get your standard jump cuts that you would expect in most modern films, instead you get one super long scene throughout the film and it continues almost the whole way through (with very few cuts). This gives Birdman a unique feel when watching it and I think immediately sets it out as something different and unique in 2014.
It’s hard to see what I’m talking about from viewing the trailer but if you take a look at the scene I placed below, you can see how the camera follows the actors and it’s all a single shot. It’s quite difficult to do in a film because often times in scenes there is a lot going on and it’s hard to make it perfect. But in Birdman it just is. It’s the difference that this film has that makes it a joy to watch and I’m so happy to see something that is different being made, it’s not often where I think a director has really created something new, but I really enjoyed what Alejandro González Iñárritu created here with Birdman.
Birdman “Does She Talk” Scene
What’s also good with Birdman is that it has very strong characterisation. Riggan (Michael Keaton) is the main character we follow around and he’s really struggling. Riggan is living in the shadow of his past life and he desperately wants to be great again and be recognised, just as he was when he was Birdman. But, Riggan is a victim of the industry who I guess is being torn down by reviewer’s and the media because of his “celebrity” which makes it difficult for him to be successful. We see Riggan struggle with all sorts of pressures related to his career which impact on his perception of himself, but we also see him struggle with his relationship with his daughter (Emma Stone) and it’s all very interesting to watch.
The film also provides a lot of commentary and I guess discussion points for people in the industry to talk about, such as how reviewers treat certain actors and what really is the measure of a successful person? Is fame really that important? What is it that someone should strive for in life? Do people’s perceptions of oneself matter? Also with Birdman being a superhero, there are discussion points around the current superhero fascination people have at the moment and the types of films being made by the industry and the fans that follow them.
Some of the side characters such as Sam (Emma Stone) or Mike (Edward Norton) have some great moments and they didn’t seem to me to be people slotted in just for the sake of forwarding the storyline. They all seemed to have a place in Riggan’s world and as a whole many of them are facing their own issues and their own circumstances that they have to deal with. But at the same time through their interactions with Riggan which at times impact on his character, they help change the character as the film goes on and all together contribute to a very interesting and realistic world that Riggan occupies.
In terms of the acting, Birdman has some of the best as well for 2014. Michael Keaton did a phenomenal job with Riggan and to me from following him around for the whole film, he seemed like almost a real person, I’m sure that Micheal Keaton will receive a lot of award nominations for his work with Birdman. Emma Stone is also worth a mention as she delivers a great performance here and has some good scenes with Keaton, it was much better than anything she did in Spider-Man by far. Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton and Amy Ryan were all great with their roles and I didn’t feel like any of them were miscast or shouldn’t be there.
The music of Birdman is also worth a mention. There is a strange drum beat and a lot of well picked songs that play throughout the film. But they helped to create an upbeat tone and maybe helped with some scenes that might have been dull for some people if left without music.
There is also some special effects in Birdman and while they are good they aren’t like the best effects ever. But they are there as part of Riggan’s imagination, kind of like in last year’s The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and represent the inner thoughts of the main character. I also really enjoyed the voiceover which is inside Riggan’s mind, which speaks to him as Birdman, some of the lines are pretty funny and it adds a lot to the understanding of his character.
Overall Birdman is a film I will happily watch again and I feel there are some things I may have missed when viewing it the first time that will aid in my understanding of Riggan’s character further. There is a lot of complex character layers in Birdman and the world that Alejandro González Iñárritu brought us to and created was very interesting to see. Birdman has many great performances, especially from Michael Keaton and Emma Stone and it stands out as something different with the touch of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s long shots. It’s something definitely worth seeing and I think it’s the best film of 2014 and the only one I’m happy to give a 10.
For more on Birdman, you can also take a look at Petey’s review right here.