- 1 hr 59 min
Birdman, directed by Alejandro GonzÃ¡lez IÃ±Ã¡rritu, is a 2014 dark comedy film that follows Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), a famous Hollywood actor who once starred in a blockbuster superhero franchise called Birdman. Now, he is struggling to make a comeback as a credible actor by directing and starring in a Broadway play. The film is shot almost entirely in one take, making it a technical marvel that immerses the viewer in the frenzied world of Broadway theater.
As Riggan navigates the chaotic world of theater, he battles not only with his own ego and insecurities but also with the various people around him, including his daughter Sam (Emma Stone), his Broadway lawyer Jake (Zach Galifianakis), his demanding leading lady Lesley (Naomi Watts), and the volatile method actor he brings onto the play, Mike (Edward Norton). As his personal life begins to spiral out of control, Riggan begins to lose touch with reality, and the line between his personal life and performance begins to blur.
There are a few different themes being explored in the movie, but perhaps the most prominent is the idea of identity. Riggan is grappling with his own identity as an actor: he's constantly haunted by his Birdman past and eager to prove himself as a serious actor. He's also trying to find a way to connect with his daughter after years of neglecting her. On another level, the film explores how we construct our own identities in the eyes of others: the characters are all trying to play certain roles in order to be seen in a certain way, whether it's Riggan trying to be a serious actor, Lesley trying to be taken seriously as an actress, or Sam trying to find her place in the world. In this way, the film touches on some of the most fundamental questions of existence, particularly the nature of the self.
But Birdman is also a biting satire of the entertainment industry, particularly the superhero movie genre. Riggan's struggle to be recognized as a serious actor is hampered by the public's perception of him as a washed-up superhero actor, as well as the cynical attitudes of the theater community which is full of people only interested in money, fame, and prestige. At the same time, the film mocks the current state of popular culture, specifically Hollywood's obsession with sequels, reboots, and spin-offs.
Perhaps ironically, the film is semi-structured like a superhero movie, complete with a rousing score, frenetic action, and even a few magical realist flourishes that make the line between reality and fantasy even blurrier. Yet IÃ±Ã¡rritu subverts the genre's usual tropes and character arcs, providing a sharp commentary on the entire superhero package while also weaving a deeper story about themes of identity, ego, and authenticity.
Despite this weighty subject matter, Birdman is ultimately a dark comedy that is full of hilarious moments of self-deprecation and absurdist humor. The characters are all a bit insane in their own ways, and the film gleefully pokes fun at their various quirks and flaws. Yet the film also has a lot of heart, particularly in its depiction of Riggan's relationship with his daughter.
One of the most impressive things about Birdman is its technical achievements. The decision to film the movie almost entirely in one take is a daring move that pays off in spades, making the viewer feel like they are right in the middle of the chaos on stage. This isn't just a gimmick, either; the one-take approach allows the film to play with time in interesting ways and to pack in a huge amount of information in each shot.
Overall, Birdman is a unique and thrilling film that deftly blends humor, drama, and satire into something truly special. It's a film that invites repeated viewings, both for its complicated themes and its stunning technical achievements. Michael Keaton's performance is a tour-de-force, but every member of the cast shines in their roles. Fans of dark comedies, indie dramas, or superhero movies (or some combination thereof) will find plenty to appreciate here.
Birdman is a 2014 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 59 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.7 and a MetaScore of 87.