First Hit: One of the most amazing films I’ve ever watched.
What struck me and continues to strike me about this film was the way it was filmed. It is filmed like it all came from one camera with no edits.
Although I was amazed from the very beginning, there is a scene, where the camera is on a balcony ledge, looking up at a dark sky with a building in the background, the lights in the building change, the darkness of the sky changes to morning, and then the camera backs off the ledge moves down the building it was on and finally backs into Riggan’s (Michael Keaton) dressing room where the action picks up again.
The shot is phenomenal as are most of the shots in this film. What makes all this better is that the acting is also sublime.
This story about a man who wants to revitalize his acting career on Broadway after becoming famous as a superhero named “Birdman”. Not that the film is suppose to have a similar real life link to Keaton’s own acting life as Batman, - it does. But it is much more and deeper than this. It is about finding a place to be relevant and honest with oneself in some way.
Joining Riggan in the play he is putting on is Lesley (Naomi Watts) who has been striving her whole life to do an opening night on Broadway. Then there’s current girlfriend Laura (Andrea Riseborough) who wants to have a baby but struggles with Riggan’s inattention and is angelic in the play.
Lastly, on stage with him is Mike (Edward Norton) who is Leslie’s boyfriend and New York City stage actor supreme. His method rankles and enhances Riggan’s vision for the play. Although the story interacts with and at times becomes the story, the overall story is about Riggan becoming who he a man he likes and cares about.
Keaton is at his absolute best as Riggan and Birdman. He’s naked on the screen, we can see him. Watts is superb. Her execution of her role is perfect. Riseborough is great. The scene where she tells Riggan that she is pregnant is touchingly wonderful. Norton is beyond amazing. His command of the role is perfect. He shows just the right amount of arrogance and thoughtfulness. Emma Stone is truly a wonder. Her role as Riggan’s daughter is one of the most startling pieces of supporting work on the screen this year. Her hauntingly, desperate, and thoughtful view of the world is perfect. All of these actors gave Oscar worthy consideration performances. Zach Galifianakis as Riggans attorney and co-producer was also very, very strong. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Nicolas Giacobone wrote this amazing screenplay. Their use of words to make emotional points was spot on. Inarritu’s direction of the cinematographer, actors, and execution of the story will have him considered at Academy Awards time.
Overall: An amazing piece of art, and that is what this film is, an outstanding and sublime piece of art.