If you look up the definition of 'meta' in the dictionary, Birdman (the unexpected virtue of ignorance) is the first result.
Everything about the ambitious film Birdman: Or (the unexpected virtue of ignorance) is meticulously thought out and executed flawlessly by the stellar cast and bold crew, especially Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Riggan Thomson, played by Michael Keaton, is a former cinema superhero, box-office juggernaut, and celebrity. In an attempt to revitalize his aging and stagnant career, Riggan funds an ambitious dramatic play adaptation that he writes, directs and acts on Broadway. It is a steep risk and gigantic wager but Riggan is grasping at the last vestiges of his career and is desperate to prove his creative legitimacy as an actor, artist and performer. With concerns mounting, namely the recast of a title role to a problematic but enigmatic actor (played by Edward Norton) after the original actor is severely injured, and opening night imminently approaching, Riggan must scramble to maintain control and sanity.
In the end, Birdman is a deliberately ambiguous film about the struggle with identity in the midst of an existential crisis, meant to open a dialogue between the viewer. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s masterful direction of Birdman: Or (the unexpected virtue of ignorance) and grasp of complex content as a commentary on the environment of acting and celebrity shows through in his flawless execution of the film, from start to finish. Iñárritu could not have selected a more challenging and demanding subject for his first mainstream feature film.
Birdman is a perfectly balanced tightrope act split between fantasy and reality. Iñárritu’s formidable undertaking of his creative adaptation and the ideas he chooses to explore parallels to his character Riggan Thomson’s venture. Within Birdman, the notions of love versus admiration, celebrity versus artistry, creative legitimacy versus fraudulence, among others are probed substantially.
Birdman is flawlessly executed and conceptualized in every facet. The real life actors playing actors in the film allow their real life personas to be parodied and exploited for creative effect – I especially commend Norton and Keaton. The original score also adds to the surrealist ‘play’ atmosphere by mimicking an orchestra of the stage rather than a subtly complementary movie score. No dialogue uttered by the characters seems out of place or frivolous, each word dripping with substantiated meaning toward Iñárritu’s final intention, each frame of each scene similarly important and purposeful.
Birdman: Or (the unexpected virtue of ignorance) is the type of film that will be talked about and studied in film schools for years to come. Perhaps this will cause some frustration by some viewers – as the film leaves many aspects of the film unanswered and abstract and open for interpretation. The film especially may not be for main stream audiences who are more inclined to see action films where stuff gets blown up rather than the philosophical articulations of Birdman.
Birdman – Review