Birdman is an entertaining parable of ambition and fame that drips with satire at every frame.
The brisk yet well-executed plot is an engaging mix of reality and flights of fancy. The improvised Jazz drumming could electrify a scene with a couple of beats. Tracking shots bring you into this claustrophobic worn down world of Riggan’s desperate attempt at self-redemption.
All the actors turn in a fitting theatrical performance. Micheal Keaton carries the film (Riggan is a reflection of his earlier role as Batman). Emma Stone and Zach Galifianakis play against their niche and pulls it off convincingly. Edward Norton plays a douchebag very well (Mike is a parody of his reputation as a horrible actor to work with). Naomi Watts shows that she deserves more work.
Underneath all of this flashiness is nothing.
Birdman is a stream of consciousness of a narcissistic insecure attention-starved actor that becomes one-note. Subplots go nowhere and the characters are designed to be caricatures. The movie’s ideas about artistic integrity against the Hollywood machinery is underdeveloped. It takes a jab at media – snobbish critics, press junket whores – while being an artsy film made to obscure a weak story and schmooze the Academy.
Birdman is Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s shift from gritty realism to surrealism. Everyone who watches this film will agree that it is a technical tour de force. But it’s more of a technical exercise in filmmaking rather than a story with fleshed-out characters.
Birdman is an indictment of Hollywood playing to the crowd while being a high-art film playing for the Academy.