Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Movie Review


Movie: Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Cast: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Produced by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Music: Antonio Sanchez (drum score)
Language: English
Overall Stars: 5 out of 5

Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), former Hollywood superhero Birdman, has a shaky career. With a persistent hope to comeback as an artist, Riggan writes, directs and acts in a Broadway. The play is an adaptation of Raymond Carver‘s short story – ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love‘.

On the day of first preview show, one of his casts is hurt (intentionally plotted by Riggan because he finds him a terrible actor) and is replaced by Mike (Edward Norton). Riggan is impressed with Mike’s performance and refinances his house to get him on contract.

Riggan’s best friend Jake (Zach Galifianakis) produces the show and Riggan’s daughter Sam (Emma Stone) is a recovering addict and assists him.

Alejandro González Iñárritu takes us through his artistry and unravels a variety of perspectives throughout the movie.

For instance, one perspective is to depict what real love means to three generation of characters – Riggan, Mike and Sam.

Another perspective is to bring out the identity crisis Riggan goes through his stint with Broadway. His subconscious thoughts are represented as superhero character Birdman, which controls his thought processes and at certain instances, even his actions and decisions. This entire concept beautifully reflects how a human being (even a famous actor like Riggan) goes through insecurities and self doubts. We either succumb to our subconscious thoughts or soar like an eagle and raise above the sky.

Next perspective, an artist constantly questions the state of reality and fantasy. Iñárritu uses blue color to signal that something isn’t real, that he’s blending dream with reality. He almost spells it out by lighting the dream sequence in Riggan’s play in blue. At various sequences, blue is also the color used for Birdman’s costume (not the real one).

Innaritu also employs Sigmund Freud‘s psychoanalytic personality theory (Freud states that – The id, ego, and superego are the three parts of the human personality which combine to create the complex behavior of human beings) to attach deeper meaning to Riggan’s character. Various sequences bring aspects of this theory in the movie. For instance, Riggan’s ego is trashed when the critic states she will kill his play with a negative review.

There was another aspect that left me awe-inspired. An artist becomes one, when they have the talent, know the technique of that art and pursues the same for the sake of art. But beyond that, an Artist becomes legendary when they persevere and put their soul into the art. Riggan improves gradually as an artist from first preview show to the last opening show. And Riggan constantly embellishes his character in the play with his personal learning and experiences.

Last and probably the mind blowing aspect of this movie is its end. It left me speechless and this clearly explains why Alejandro is easily, one of the most creative directors of our generation.

Due credit goes to cinematographer, editor and the jazz musicians, drummers from the sound department.

Bottomline: Birdman is one of the best movies I had watched in a very long time!