Weekend Review: Birdman

“You’re all just celebrities, handing each other awards over comic books and pornography!”

Not a superhero movie, of course, but a darkly comic tour de force about an actor who used to play one. Mentally disturbed and financially troubled, Riggan appears on Broadway in an attempt to establish his credibility as an artist.

Whether Broadway constitutes a temple of high culture makes an interesting question. As for Birdman, he will not be bound.

Title: “Birdman, or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

Written by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo


Michael Keaton a Riggan Thompson
Emma Stone as Sam Thompson
Edward Norton as Mike
Naomi Watts as Lesley
Andrea Riseborough as Laura
Zach Galifianakis as Jake
Amy Ryan as Sylvia
Lindsay Duncan as Tabitha
Warren Kelly as Dresser

Full Cast and Crew information is available at the imdb.


A washed-up, disturbed celebrity, best remembered for playing a superhero in the 1990s, tries to reinvent himself by writing, directing, and starring in an adaptation of a Raymond Carver story. As in all behind-the-scenes looks at a theatrical production, matters go terribly awry.

High Point:

The overall effect of the film is that we’re being roped along down hallways and alleys, across the stage and over rooftops, in one continuous longshot. The filmmakers cheat, of course, in the manner of the lip dub videos popular with high schools and old folks’ homes, and through the use of time-lapsed transitions. The technique creates a dramatic intensity that keeps the audience bound to their seats. We don’t get a break—and we’re also reminded of the realities of live theatre.

Low Point:

The film generally lives up to its artistic yearnings, but it becomes awkwardly pretentious in places. The one time the apparent continuous shot breaks, in particular, features unnecessary excesses.

The Scores:

Originality: 4/6

Story: 5/6 We have a compelling story here, with credible characters and generally effective dialogue. The final scenes feel prolonged, before leading to… whatever that ending might signify.

Effects: 6/6 A handful of effects—mostly minor, a few spectacular—displaying the contents of Riggan’s bird-brain have been brilliantly executed.

Production: 6/6

Acting: 6/6 The actors put it mesmerizing performances. What might have been stunt casting—Michael “Batman” Keaton and Emma “Spider-man’s Girlfriend” Stone—proves inspired. Michael Keaton may well take the Oscar for Best Actor.

Emotional Response: 6/6

Overall: 6/6 The film adds to its own point about art and culture through several amusing pop-culture references that will mean little to nothing in a decade’s time.

In total, Birdman receives 39/42.

And for those of you who don’t want dark comedy: