"Birdman" (2014)

Rating: R
Genre: Drama
Directed By: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Written By: Nicolás Giacobone, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., Armando Bo
Released: January 1st, 2015
Runtime: 119 minutes
Studio: Fox Searchlight

Former cinema superhero Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is mounting an ambitious Broadway production that he hopes will breathe new life into his stagnant career. It's risky, but he hopes that his creative gamble will prove that he's a real artist and not just a washed-up movie star. As opening night approaches, a castmate is injured, forcing Riggan to hire an actor (Edward Norton) who is guaranteed to shake things up. Meanwhile, Riggan must deal with his girlfriend, daughter and ex-wife.

This is very unique and cleverly filmed. The whole one-take effect is incredibly well done and worth watching it for if nothing else. This after all is the “gimmick” of the whole film; the thing that makes it stand out from many others. I can’t imagine the amount of planning and preparation that would have gone into achieving this affect. That alone is pretty amazing so hats off to everyone involved. With the use of intricately choreographed tracking shots the camera sweeps through narrow corridors and up and down stairways and through crowded streets with a look of such ease. Almost like a bird in flight which wordlessly refers back to the title. It’s quite phenomenal. The Continuity guys had their hands full…

However, I think I’m going to be within a small minority here when I declare to you that I did not like this film all that much. I didn’t enjoy the story, I found it a little boring I’m sorry to say. I didn’t enjoy Michael Keaton’s performance or character, I didn’t like him as a person and couldn’t get on board with his woes throughout the film. It just didn’t appeal to me. It was a shame because it had been hyped up no end. And I’m not necessarily saying that none of that was undeserved. But this film was just simply not for me. 

The colour scheme was quite dull, mostly consisting of greys and blues and browns. I think this added to the lacklustre feel of Michael Keaton’s character for most of the film. He was struggling with inner conflict and the colour palette thus reflected. For the odd scene more colour was incorporated, like when he walks through a shop entrance engulfed by colourful lights. I liked this shot a lot. It was very pretty. And another featuring an excellent performance from Emma Stone in which a strong yellow is very prominent. 

A lot of moments bordered on the absurd or unrealistic. Michael Keaton’s character seemed to have some kind of magical powers – hence the name of the film – in which we saw him levitating, flying, starting fires – I didn’t get any of this. It looked cool on screen but it lifted me out of the film every time because I couldn’t figure out if it was in his head or if he really did have these “powers”. Is it supposed to be a fantasy of some kind? Each time it just struck me as odd against the rest of the film. I just didn’t get it. We are constantly hearing a voice in his head badgering him about all kinds of problems, nagging him about his insecurities and worries. I liked this aspect as we all have that voice in our heads sometimes nagging us that won’t go away. Here, the film gave his voice a physical presence in the bird man. 

I guess there are some points made throughout the script that can mirror that of reality. Many of the actors were making reference to their own current situation through their characters, which can be acknowledged as pretty poignant writing. I think this look at the situation within the film industry and teasing it out through this film was possibly another reason that made this film stand out so much. 

With the filming winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Original Screenplay, it earned all the success it garnered. I wish I had got the same kick out of it that everyone else seems to have got from watching it, but alas it just wasn't for me.