Film Review: BIRDMAN


Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Written b y Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., Nicholas Giacabone, Armando Bo

Starring: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Amy Ryan, Zach Galifianakes

I guess it’s no secret that Michael Keaton has struggled for some years now in finding a vehicle worthy of his talents. He came out of nowhere thirty years ago to make NIGHT SHIFT and MR. MOM. Here and there over those years, we find him in a film like BEETLEJUICE or in smaller parts in OUT OF SIGHT and JACKIE BROWN. But on the whole, he has to be disappointed in his filmography.

BIRDMAN changes all that by giving Keaton a part that in many ways echoes his own predicament. It is also a role that draws on his many strengths. He plays an actor–successful for his role in three super-hero type films. To turn things around, he develops a Raymond Carver story for the stage and is preparing to direct it.

The real struggle for Riggan Thomson (Keaton) is with his loss of self-esteem, brought to life through the character of BIRMAN who dogs his every step, maligning his ability, putting suicidal thoughts in his head. His leading actor (Norton) is also troublesome, seemingly unprepared for his part. His daughter (Stone) is a reminder of failures in his personal life.

Although we are given glimpses of the Carver play, the real meat of the film is backstage where he wrestles with his various demons. This is a well-acted film, beautifully directed, and surprising in its gracefulness, darkness, and its deft use of magical realism. Highly recommended.

Patti Abbott