Posted December 27, 2014 by editor in Film Reviews
 
 

Birdman Review


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Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is a washed up Hollywood star (famous for playing a costumed superhero), now at 60, directing and starring in a play about existential look on life and love.

Around him he finds support, but also constant quarrel, with the likes of his assistant and daughter (Emma Stone), leading actress (Naomi Watts), Girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough), ex-wife (Amy Ryan), Lawyer (Zach Galifianakis) and not least of all from the new addition to his cast in the form of Mike Shiner (Edward Norton).

There hasn’t been a more actors’ film in many years. Birdman gleefully takes a ride with the ensemble as they roam from stage to back stage, to changing rooms, to offices and even out into the streets in front of the theatre with the camera following them without doing much in the way of cutting.

It’s a clever decision on the part of the filmmakers to make the film almost all one long shot. It can be distracting at times (just because you are admiring the technical nature of the beast), but given the mood of the piece it’s a brilliant choice. You get to see performances come out as honestly as they can from the actors – all of which are quite astounding. Every name gets a chance to shine on screen. Galifianakis it has to be said puts in quite the career changing role – albeit a small one. Norton threatens to steal the picture with his overly confident smarm, but this is Keaton’s movie and he never lets the audience forget that.

The ultimate irony of course is that he is that forgotten star who once played a winged superhero. And this is his big triumphant return in a career refining role. Keaton is nothing short of onscreen magic right through to the end both physically and emotionally.

The narrative  towards the end of the film might raise a few Keaton-esque eyebrows with its obscure change in tone – but ultimately it is a powerhouse of performances and energy that never lets up. A strong contender.

5 Stars

 

 

Steven Hurst


editor