It is brilliant.
There’s no way of getting around that and it deserves to be said. The characters all seem to be somewhere in between cycles of nervous breakdowns.
Michael Keaton stars as Reggan Thompson, a former comic book hero actor, who’s shunned Hollywood and put all his money into adapting a 60-year-old short story into play on Broadway.
Keaton is plagued by a mean voice in his head who keeps telling him what he’s doing is a massive mistake. Everything is at risk for him as he tries to make a play which he hopes will get him respected as a real artist.
The pure pace of it and the intensity is something you won’t find in any other film. It’s better than almost anything else going for Oscars this year without the exception of Boyhood. But they’re completely different films. Boyhood is a nice and relaxing film whereas Birdman is like spending a couple of hours in a mental asylum.
The camera almost never stops moving the entire film. Even when the characters are sitting down it’ll be spinning around them or gently hovering. There is no discernible breaks between the scenes. The camera moves on from one place down hallways, upstairs or down streets and then time has moved on.
Keaton is brilliant in it and the supporting cast all play their parts well. But the only one to match Keaton is Edward Norton. He plays Mike Shiner, a purely theatre actor who questions and destroys Thompson’s beliefs, motives and ideas with unmerciful tirades.
And when the two of them are put in the same scene with each other it is just brilliant. They argue and rip into one another, one time they end up actually coming to blows.
The dialogue is funny and fiercely opinionated at times. Like when Norton’s character says, “Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige.”
Reggan’s daughter played by Emma Stone at one point calls his play, “Weird, but kinda cool.” This could be said about the film as well but it would be an understatement. It’s more totally fucked up and absolutely brilliant.
In three words: Go see it.