Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, tells the story of Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), an actor who rose to super-stardom for portraying the comic book hero ‘Birdman’ in the 1990s.Two decades later he is broke, separated from his wife Sylvia (Amy Ryan), detached from his teenage daughter Sam (Emma Stone), outshone by his star lead Mike Shiner (Edward Norton) and close to losing his sanity. He chooses to redeem his former glory and pursues to direct and star in a Broadway play based on the American writer Raymond Carver’s story ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’.
Although the film’s promotion suggests it to be a superhero adaptation, Birdman is a deconstruction of complex emotions ultimately leading to the protagonist’s spiralling meltdown. This is where the film shines as its performances are splendid with each actor truly excellent in their respective roles: Edward Norton as a deeply involved method actor almost ruining the first audience preview of the play and Emma Stone’s fear inducing monologue to Keaton are the highlights of the film’s supporting cast. With his versatile talent, Keaton leads the high strung supporting ensemble in a role that can be considered his most powerful work till date.
Birdman is written and directed by Mexican Director Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams and Babel). The film was shot in a technique that makes it look like one long continuous take. The camera follows its characters with ease around the stage as well as backstage and is a marvellous feat for cinematography as well as choreography. With awards season just around the corner, Birdman could be a sure-shot contender in leading categories.
Birdman was screened at Dubai International Film Festival, which ran from December 10-17.
Review by Ashford Fernandez