Starring: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Running Time: 119 mins
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) is an American film about a washed-up actor, famous for superhero blockbusters in the early 90s, who must battle his ego and family troubles in order to reclaim his former glory with a successful Broadway production.
This is definitely the weirdest film I’ve ever seen, and yet it’s absolutely spectacular. It’s a totally unpredictable high-wire act, enthralling and thrilling to follow, due to a stunning screenplay as well as an incredible ensemble cast, whilst its amazingly unique cinematography is the most impressive of all.
The first thing that I have to say about this film is that it’s quite tough to watch. It’s not heavy-going and it’s definitely not boring, but it’s got such a strange atmosphere to it that it really does take a bit of getting used to, but once you get through the initial confusion of being thrust into this bizarre world, it becomes thoroughly engrossing to watch.
The one thing, however, that remains strange throughout the entire film is the cinematography. The gimmick is that the whole film is filmed in what looks like one continuous shot, and while it definitely feels odd and a little distracting at some points, it’s still an absolutely genius technique that really adds to the feel of the whole film.
This one-shot cinematography really makes the film feel very natural and flowing as it develops, but what is most impressive and appropriate about it is that it really echoes the feel of the theatre. Watching this film often feels a whole lot more like watching a play, due to the very long, continuous views of the characters on screen, as well as the strange sort of melodramatic acting from the main characters.
The performances in this film are also mind-blowingly good. Of course, Michael Keaton’s central performance as this washed-up actor is absolutely stunning, and he pulls off the central character fantastically well, being both depressingly funny and really showing the insane enigma that is this washed-up superhero.
However, it’s not just Keaton’s performance that was so impressive, but the supporting cast also really shines in this film. The story doesn’t just follow Keaton’s character’s life, but also the smaller stories of all of the other actors involved in the performance and Keaton’s friends and family, amazingly acted by what I think is the best ensemble cast of all time, including Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Amy Ryan, Andrea Riseborough and Zach Galifianakis.
The story is also amazing in this film. While it’s a little bit of a slow-burner, it becomes an absolute thriller later on, as his play teeters on the edge of totally falling apart, and is hugely enthralling and exciting to watch. But it’s not only that, the story of this washed-up actor trying to reclaim his former glory and struggling to overcome the multitude of obstacles that stand in his way is absolutely fascinating to follow along to.
So, overall, this gets an 8.8 because it’s not only a technical triumph, but also a brilliantly well-written, hugely fascinating story topped off with a plethora of stunning performances.