Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Cast: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Naomi Watts, Amy Ryan
Plot: A washed up actor attempts to revive his career by directing a play on Broadway.
Review: Birdman is a surprise gem, namely because it's one of those films with not much of a plot but manages to deliver what David O'Russell's last few films couldn't, and also because it's a brilliant satire on Hollywood, acting and celebrities.
O'Russell's American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook and yes, even The Fighter didn't have much of a plot, but none of them are as good as Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman, which centres on Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton), a washed up actor known for playing a comicbook character called Birdman, who now wants to stage (no pun intended) a comeback by directing in and starring in a Broadway play. The film focuses on the first few nights of previews and the opening night itself, and everything that happens in between as Riggan has to deal with his volatile co-star (Edward Norton), rebellious daughter (Emma Stone) and a voice in his head telling him not to go through with the play.
Inarritu, who directs and also co-wrote the script, brilliantly keeps things flowing and throws every joke you can think of in regards to being a celebrity and actor in today's world. He resorts to filming long takes and making almost the entire film look like one unending take, which is superb since he seamlessly blends the scenes with each other, so even if time has passed between one scene and the next, you'd know it, yet welcome it too. The music score, which is mostly drum beats by Antonio Sanchez, also fits the film perfectly, though it can get tiresome at times.
The entire main cast throw in excellent performances here, though the lion's share of praise goes to Keaton for making Riggan a funny, flawed and sympathetic guy. He's not the nicest guy to be around at times, but you will like him nonetheless. This is pretty much Keaton's best role ever. Norton also impresses as Riggan's crazy and unpredictable co-star Mike, whose presence is a threat to the play's success. Stone is also great, moving away from the goody two shoes Gwen Stacy, as Riggan's daughter Sam, with whom he is trying to reconnect. The others are awesome in their own way; Naomi Watts as Riggan's struggling co-star, Zach Galifianakis as Riggan's producer, Andrea Riseborough as Riggan's girlfriend and Amy Ryan as his ex-wife. All seven of them work wondrously with each other, showing great chemistry in every scene. Needless to say, this is one of the best casts ever put on screen.
I have nearly no complaints about Birdman, except maybe the ending, which seemed strange. But overall, I'm pleased with the film, which allows movie fans, from the regular to the cynical, see what it's like behind the scenes of stage plays and how actors view the world, which is now saturated with the invention of social media.
Birdman is hilarious, heartfelt and exciting all at once. Recommended. (9/10)