“Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” review

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Disclaimer: What follows are specific plot details of “Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” The review contains spoilers regarding the movie. Do not read this review if you have not watched the movie yet, and wish to in the future.

You know when you are watching a movie and your mind starts to drift and you start thinking about other things? I can guarantee that won’t happen while you watch “Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, the film is the most visually stunning and breathtaking film I have seen all year.

The film is centered around “a washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory” according to IMDB. The movie takes you through Thomson’s play up to opening night along as you watch his slip into insanity and you watch his ego at work. His telekinesis and the derogatory voice in his head (the character of Birdman) illustrate Thomson’s internal struggle with the world’s opinion of him and his opinion of himself. As he copes with his choices, viewers watch him try to salvage the dream he had of being a great actor. His complex relationships with his daughter, girlfriend, best friend and ex-wife are also major parts in the movie. Although the film focuses around Thomson, the other characters’ storylines are presented, including that of his daughter, a recovering drug addict played by Stone,  who is in a twisted romance with a famous egotistical Broadway star played by Norton.

Michael Keaton gives the performance of his career as the washed up Hollywood action star, Riggan Thomson, and the stellar performances from supporting actors Emma Stone, Edward Norton and Zach Galifianakis were absolutely phenomenal. Galifianakis keeps you laughing but frustrated. Stone keeps you enthralled and connected to society outside of Thomson’s life. officalbirdmanNorton keeps you annoyed but smirking at his obnoxious ideas about the world and the truth. And Keaton keeps you somber but utterly impressed. Having played Batman, Keaton connects with the role perfectly. There is not a weak spot in the cast, which is impressive.

Props to Emmanuel Lubezki for his monumental transitions and stunning shots that makes the viewer feel as though they are inside Thomson’s mind. Switching from a certain characters’ perspectives to close shots of multiple, the camera work effectively took the viewer deeper into the film. The cameraman had you right where he wanted you. The set was beautiful. The crowded New York streets and the eerie backstage of the theatre are both fitting and appealing.

If I had to point out a weak spot, I would say the scene where Keaton flings himself off the roof dragged on a bit. But, honestly, that’s it. Almost every scene advances the plot, creates a new conflict or introduces character development. I was completely engrossed for the entirety of the film.

This movie also has some overall big messages. Highlighting the rapid growth of social media, the truth about getting old, the conflict between Broadway & Hollywood mindset, the complex and fragile relationship between father and daughter, the key to happiness and the depressing truth in trying to salvage one’s identity and the common obliviousness to suicidal tendencies, the film introduces truths about many controversial topics.

Viewers are taken into the mind of a suicidal man. And I have never wanted a protagonist to succeed more than I wanted Thomson to. All I did was root for him: hoping he’s alive, hoping he gets a good review, hoping he conquers the taunting voice of his past role in his head. emmaYou want Keaton to succeed with all your heart. And whether he does or not, is up to you. That’s what makes this movie so great, along with many other factors, viewers are given a choice in what to believe while simultaneously satisfied. Layered and metaphorical, this psychologically thrilling film will leave you wanting to watch it over again as soon as it ends. Overall, the movie has an an engaging plot, well developed characters and cutting edge camera work that make it unforgettable.

 

Parkway West Pathfinder gives “Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” 9.0/10.