Total Article : 168
About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.
What’s with that levitating scene? I don’t really get it.
That was my way of introduction to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s heady masterpiece, Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). We follow, with one single take (despite glimpsed over digital editing), Riggan Thompson, a man desperate to shed his skin of blockbuster superhero celebrity with an artistic vocation with theatre, brilliantly played by Michael Keaton. Tormented by the baritone of the subconscious, or, as we later find out, the character of Birdman himself, Riggan is forever on the brink of insanity. His active contempt for modern life takes an ironical turn when a deliciously nightmarish incident takes place: when out for a cigarette during a break of the play, Riggan’s robe gets caught in the door and he is forced to walk through Manhattan in just his briefs towards the front entrance of the theatre, which is obviously captured on a smartphone and forms his newfound popularity.
Riggan has hired his friend and lawyer, Jake (played by Zach Galifianikis), and his daughter Sam (Emma Stone) in a poor attempt at salvaging a role as a father, to assist him in his own Broadway adaptation of a Raymond Carver story. Mike Shiner, the boyfriend of an actress within the play, jumps into the mix after one ‘actor’s’ head is hit by a stage light. Played by Edward Norton, Mike is the epitome of pretentiousness in the theatre industry. Obsessed with the ‘truth’, but can only get an erection when on stage, Mike is everything everybody (except Tumblr fangirls) hates within the hipster scene. In some ways he plays an outshot of a part of what Riggan wants to be (‘who cares? They’re only gonna be tweeting about it tomorrow!’) – a man applauded by critics but caught in the liminality between life and art.
In many ways, the film revolves around the blurring of reality and art. In such pursuit of his artistic edification, Riggan has not only severed himself from his daughter, but also his former wife. We see him wrapped up in an ugly romance with a fellow actress, whom he also has involved in the play, and very quickly we begin to see that Riggan’s relationships have gone in a downward spiral. Not only until the latter stage of the movie does Riggan have a revelatory moment; that perhaps he was too distant from his daughter, and that perhaps he was a terrible husband.
Not only is Birdman a meditation on the relationship between life and art, but it also grips with aging, the dwindling of relevancy, modern cinema and theatre, as well adapting to the world within the 21st century. The film, whilst at times can be very sobering, is a hilarious and relentless joy. Whilst the question remains as to whether Riggan can actually fly or not, one thing for certain is that Birdman leaves you on lofty heights.
Image Credits: WIkipedia