Monday, January 19, 2015
Birdman is a very simple story told in a wonderfully creative way. Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is a washed-up hollywood actor formerly famous for playing the superhero, Birdman. Now to revive his flagging career, his credibility, his very life; he is writing, directing and starring in a Broadway play, that he has adapted from a Raymond Carver book. The film charts the final few days leading up to the opening night of this play, during which we see the insecurities, the doubts, the desperate efforts of this former hollywood star to regain some professional credibility and respect, and personal redemption especially with his failed relationship with his daughter.
The first thing that struck me was : so much music! The entire movie is played out to the beat of a background jazz drum that hardly ever stops. The music dictates and controls the pace, the tone and the telling of the story. I have never seen a movie use music so much and in such an innovative way. This is not a musical, and yet it relies so much on the music that it wouldn’t be half so good without it.
The other winning aspect of this movie is the camerawork. I don't usually notice, or care for, the technical aspects of a movie. But in Birdman, you can’t help but notice and admire it. The film has been shot in such a way that it appears to have been shot in one single continuos take. This feeling of being in a one continuous shot really brings home to the viewer the agitation, the confusion and the claustrophobia in the mind of the protagonist as he tries to come to grips with his alter ego, his disturbed daughter, his difficult co-star, and the failing finances of his play as the opening night approaches. You can feel the walls closing in, just like the actor feels because of his failed career, failed relationships and now his ever-closer-to-failing play. I'm not for technical wizardry just for the sake of it, but in this case, the camerawork does so much to make the movie so much closer and more real to the viewer. As we traverse through the backstage of the theatre, we live every single moment with the protagonist. Its wonderful!
Finally, the acting is brilliant all round. From Michael Keaton to Edward norton, and from Emma Stone to Naomi Watts, every single actor has put in a great performance.