You always know you’re in for an interesting watch when the opening scene of a film depicts a man meditating, floating four feet in the air. This sets the tone for Alejandro González Iñárrit Birdman, which from minute one you can’t help but watch with uninterrupted intrigue and astonishment.
Riggan Thomson (Michel Keaton) is an actor looking to make his name great once more following his role as the mega superhero, Birdman. Directing and starring in his own Raymond Carver adaptation on Broadway, which could ultimately make or break him, Riggan has to juggle with a number of obstacles as opening night approaches.
These struggles include his cast, his family but most importantly to the film, his alter ego – the superhero that once he played.
Slipping from dressing rooms down tight corridors and onto the stage of the St James Theatre, Birdman’s most notable feature is it’s one-take trick – almost documentary style how it is shot. The entire movie is one beautifully filmed, intimate cut-free scene with only subtle editing tricks included. Aided by the genius cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, Iñárrit portrays Birdman almost like its own live act – the camera following around its characters as if with them gazing at their every action.
Performances are also faultless. Starting with Keaton, whom the main character shares a glaringly similar past, has quite simply revived his stuttering career. Riggan is a character on the edge of a nervous breakdown due the pressures put upon him from various corners. Keaton’s performance is full of charm, comedy, stress and sadness – all rolled up together to portray this psychologically damaged being.
Keaton is also well supported by a strong cast interpreting a variety of personalities. Ed Norton plays his hilarious egotistical co-star and one of the main culprits behind Riggan’s struggles.
Emma Stone is also effortlessly brilliant as Riggan’s daughter, Sam, fresh out of rehab yet still visibly destroyed inside but very much the voice of reason, most notably in her defiant lecture to her father.
Naomi Watts and Andrea Riseborough both play Riggan’s insecure female co-stars with Zach Galifianakis as Riggan’s hectic producer.
Birdman is the definition of an incredibly daring venture, which seriously pays off for Iñárrit who fully deserves his Oscar acclaim for his direction as well as the Best Picture award. Birdman is an incredible and unique piece of film, a grand spectacle fitted together with a multi-talented cast and crew.