Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a black comedy which chronicles the story of Riggan Thomas (Michael Keaton), a washed up, former action star who attempts to cling to his relevance by making a comeback on Broadway. While many assume the story reflects Keaton’s real life as the man who once defended Gotham in the black Batman suit (in 1988 and 1992), you’d be surprised to know how the actor really feels about trading in one suit for another.
Shot with a continuous single camera, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s story takes you on an unexpected journey, built by the wonderful and raw performances of Ed Norton, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, and Andrea Riseborough in a film Entertainment Weekly claims will change Keaton’s career. The movie has a self-aware tone in exploiting the narcissistic nature of actors, so much so that they have no problem showing off their birthday suit at the drop of a hat (cough Ed Norton cough).
Here are five things you should know before embarking on the surprisingly optimistic journey of ignorance that is Birdman.
Keaton claims his character Riggan Thomson/Birdman does not reflect him or his own life.
Although the story of Thomson almost mirrors Keaton’s career path, he feels otherwise. “I was playing a person, just a person. And I was both as connected to Riggan and as disconnected from him as you can possibly be. And I have to tell the truth about that,” he tells EW.
Of all the romantic story lines, Ed Norton and Emma Stone’s is the one you’ll root for.
You may think it’s a bit creepy (since he’s old enough to be her dad). I’ll admit I felt that way at first, but you really just have to embrace their relationship. The two put on such spectacular performances that even though they’re completely mismatched, it feels right. He’s an egotistical, pretentious stage actor who claims he doesn’t care what anyone thinks, while she’s insecure with an attitude problem and cares too much about what people think. You’re aware they both need to get their heads out of their asses, but before you know it, you’ll be rooting for them.
Ed Norton isn’t the only one who strips down in the movie. Keaton’s character indeed gets caught running through Times Square in nothing but his tighty whities, so naturally, VH1 quizzed the cast on how well they could recognize fellow actors in really tight underwear.
Despite the trailer, it is not an action movie.
There are very few, short blockbuster movie action scenes. They’re sole purpose is to show how the Birdman universe is haunting Riggan as the constant reminder of the bigger and better world he left behind. Metaphor, anyone?
We need to see more Andrea Riseborough.
She and Naomi Watts are fantastic in this one, lesbihonest. Of all the female characters, however, Riseborough really steals the show. We’ve seen the English actress in indies such as Disconnect (2012) and Made in Dagenham (2010), but her performance left us wanting so much more. Her spectrum of reactions to Keaton’s (who is her lover) ambivalence showcased just what she is capable of as an actress and the scope of her talent in just two hours.
Director/writer/producer Alejandro G. Iñárritu says the film represents his experience turning 50.
Although Keaton doesn’t believe the story should be associated with his real life, Iñárritu doesn’t feel the same way. In a recent interview at the Telluride Film Festival, he spoke to the “melancholic state” of turning 50 and how it causes you to look inward while thinking about your purpose, successes, failures, “[w]hat satisfies, [and] what are things you should do or not do.” As this is a constant struggle for Riggan throughout the film, we can see that if the movie does tie to anyone’s real life specifically, it would be Iñárritu’s.
[Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight/Getty]