These lines from the first still reveal the underlying basis of the movie. Birdman is a story of an ageing Hollywood actor, Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton), who wants to revive his fading career by doing a Broadway Production, and in the process also has to fight off his own inner demon (Birdman) who criticizes him mercilessly at every inner confrontation. This introspective battle which is layered through out the story-line makes it hard to distinguish between the protagonist and the antagonist of the movie. A satirical comedy with spectacular performances from the cast and an off beat technical stroke makes this movie one of its kind and certainly a must watch.
As the story progresses, Riggan Thompson orchestrates the Broadway play with the help of his friend, Jake who is also producing it, and with the assistance of his daughter, Sam who is a recovering drug addict. Co-starring with Laura, his girlfriend, and Lesley, a first time Broadway actress, and Mike, a brilliant stage actor, Riggan finds it hard to maintain a steady rapport with his crew. In an argument with Sam, she tells him that he’s not doing this play for the sake of art and that he’s just one of the many in the world who are forgotten and are fighting to feel relevant again. During the rehearsals, Riggin faces many hurdles involving Mike and Sam’s admiration for each other, making it up-to Laura, challenging an influential critic and fighting his own mental voice all along. On the opening night, Riggin shoots his nose on stage with a real gun, at the end of play, following which he gets a standing ovation. At the hospital, when Sam returns to Riggin’s room, he’s gone and the window ledge is open. Sam looks down at the street, looks up and smiles.
Birdman seems like a theater equivalent of the movie Black Swan(2011) but with humor and a stirring jazz background score from Antonio Sánchez. The spell-binding screenplay gives the audience a glimpse into the lives of each of the characters. Right from the first shot, the camera never blinks and the movie keeps rolling as a continuous chain of events unfold the movie’s plot centering the lead character’s life. Had it not been for this eccentric technical approach, the movie would have fallen short of giving the viewers a kind of exhilarating emotional experience. Alejandro G. Iñárritu certainly deserved the Academy award for the best director for bringing out the best in the crew with such creative reverence. Emmanuel Lubezki did a marvelous job with the cinematography, given a daunting task of capturing long shots in which the locale moves from indoors to outdoors, from daylight to night time frequently. The whole film was shot in actual theaters in New York which made the job much more tedious. The film won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Some movies are forgotten with time and some remain phenomenal. Birdman belongs to the latter.