Friday, 16 January 2015
Birdman is, primarily, a character study on a man’s fervent attempts to reclaim lost glory and a scathing media satire on the desperate attempts of showbiz stars to remain relevant; and, in its darkly humorous portrayal of an actor for whom the line between his silver screen persona and real self has been completely blurred, it managed to be a superhero film too, albeit on a subterranean level. Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), who had once attained immense popularity for playing Birdman, is now a washed up actor perennially haunted by the superhero’s brooding presence. In real life, he’s a fumbling man who seems to be losing his sanity, while his alter-ego is an angry, venom-spewing person with telekinetic abilities. In a rather grotesque attempt to earn respectability, he’s decided to direct and act in a play for Broadway, and he’s joined in this endeavour, which borders between ambition and folly, by an acclaimed but egotistical actor (Edward Norton), a neurotic actress making her Broadway debut (Naomi Watts), his best friend and confidante (Zach Galifianakis) and his estranged, self-centered daughter (Emma Stone), among others, leading to both frictions and reconciliations. The film has been shot in a seemingly one continuous take, broken only by a montage sequence near the end, which was breathtaking in its audacity and technical virtuosity. Keaton gave a career defining performance as the complex-ridden protagonist – the fact that he’d starred in Batman and Batman Returns over 2 decades back, added a sharp self-reflexive touch bordering on wry self-parody to the film, heightened by Birdman’s close resemblance to the caped crusader and its gruff voice which provided a jab at Nolan’s reboot of the DC Comics franchise.
Director: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu
Genre: Black Comedy/Media Satire