Back in the late 80s and early 90s, Michael Keaton was one of the greatest, most sought after actor after his portrayal as Batman in both Tim Burton’s movies in 1989 and 1992. However, his decision to quit acting as Batman although being offered $!5 million for the third sequel shook the media industry. $15 million was a lot back then and it was absurd for someone, like us to just reject the contract. So when Keaton is set to cast in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, it was quite amusing news as technically, Keaton and Birdman’s protagonist, Riggan Thomson were almost like a reflection on a mirror. Really.
Riggan Thomson is a once upon a time actor who is famously known for his portrayal as Birdman, a flying comic book superhero in costumes. (Having a bit of déjà vu feeling? Keaton was once famous for being Batman too) However, he seemed to lose his tune in the acting industry and his career plummeted. Desperate, he decided to rebuild himself by directing a Broadway play using his own hard earned money. The play adapted from Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love was not only directed by Riggan, but he too starred in with another Hollywood star sitting on the same boat as he was – to seek respectability.
When his actor was no longer available after being knocked out by a flying mysterious object ( most probably sabotage), Riggan has no choice but to bring in Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), a Hollywood actor who has been fired during a shooting for another movie. Then, we have Riggan’s daughter, Sam (Emma Stone) who has just being released from drug rehab, Riggan’s supposedly pregnant lover, Laura (Andrea Riseborough) and his ex-wife, Sylvia (Amy Ryan). Not to forget Zach Galifianakis’s portrayal as Riggan’s show producer. With the addition of all these characters, one would certainly expect the common conflict between all the characters. Do expect some cliché conflicts to happen throughout the movie. Birdman’s most iconic scene where Keaton has to run through Times Square half naked was the only scene which was hilarious.
Director by Mexican film producer, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman is a very ambitious film industry related movie which most film stars can relate to. With its marvellous cast line up, Birdman unfortunately has become just like the proverb ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. The camerawoks seemed forceful and was rather not helping audience to full understand the characters. Birdman was supposedly being a comedy movie but unfortunately it failed to reach the standard comedy level as it centers more on those unnecessary conflicts between characters. Besides, the gags are mostly in the form of dick joke or potty humour which was no longer amusing once it kept on repeating. Perhaps Iñárritu has no idea on how to create well played jokes or his assistants had no idea that those jokes were boring. The relationship between actresses Lesley (Naomi Watts) and Laura (Andrea Riseborough) sounded a little synthetic with no proper built up.
On the other hand, on the performance side, the actors and actresses has done a pretty good job. Keaton’s acts as Riggan was believable at certain point that one thought the two were the same people! Keaton gave Riggan to be a multi-personality character which is bitter yet a sweet character. Perhaps, Birdman is one of the best movies Keaton had ever acted in his career. So do Edward Norton’s Mike Shiner who keeps Riggan busy with his egoistical personality. Emma Stone was outstanding too with her acting as Riggan’s former drug addict daughter. She displayed a weak, fragile side of Sam which characteristics is a contrast from Stone’s Gwen Stacy from Spiderman.
In short, Birdman is a well thought film which gives audience to learn of the darker side of the life of actor and actress. Iñárritu has introduced us to the issue which feared every film star; to be forgotten by their fans and only be known by a character, not their name. It is a unique movie with great performance from the actors but sadly it is a soulless movie which lacks of its charms.