Actor Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton, in a self-referential tour de force) is washed up after quitting a popular superhero franchise. Now he's looking for career and personal redemption in his Broadway adaptation of a Raymond Carver story, helped and hindered by his put-upon lawyer (Zack Galifianakis), his neurotic daughter and assistant (Emma Stone), a powerful theater critic who hates Hollywood dabblers (Lindsay Duncan) and his play's stars, Laura (Andrea Riseborough), Lesley (Naomi Watts) and Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), a gifted but self-righteous method actor. Meanwhile, Thomson, who either has supernatural powers or is deranged, is haunted by the mocking, disembodied voice of Birdman. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu channels these tensions into a film that's both exhilarating and infuriating. Shot largely at the venerable St. James Theatre, Birdman looks like one extended take thanks to artful transitions, with gliding tracking shots and clipped dialogue that recall Robert Altman. The film falters along its edges, including romantic dalliances that feel like filler. Iñárritu pushes through a couple of durable endings for a denouement that feels like one flight of fancy too far. But this is an acting master class that skewers the self-indulgent acting process, an exaltation of Broadway that satirizes its untidy backstage, a film that proselytizes the artistic purity of theater, a scoff at social media that ultimately concedes its power. The message might be muddled, but the delivery soars.
Official Site: www.birdmanthemovie.com
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writer: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo
Cast: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts
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