Birdman: Review / by Kenneth Buff

Like most people I know, my interest in Birdman came from the obvious parallels between Michael Keaton's real career and that of the character he is playing. In Birdman Keaton plays Riggan Thomson. A Hollywood actor who's last great role was in the 1990's when he stared as the title character in Birdman 3. Keaton of course will always be most well known for playing Batman in the first two (serious) Batman films. But that's where the comparisons between Keaton and Riggan Thomson stop. Keaton's real life persona, and Riggan Thomson's couldn't be any further from each other, and the plot of the film is definitely nothing like what you would see in a summer superhero block buster. All of which is good news for the audience.

The film is mostly about the fate of a play Riggan has adapted, is directing, and starring in—this of course rubs some Broadway diehards the wrong way, such as Edward Norton's character, a beloved Broadway actor named Mike Shiner, and a New York Times critic played by Lindsay Duncan—but it's also about the insatiable attention artists crave, and what lengths they're willing to go to get it; to stay relevant in today's lightning speed culture. The film hits all the right beats, but it delivers them in that strange way that only an independent film can dare to do. Now don't let that last statement turn you off, this isn't a head scratching movie (well, except for maybe the ending), it is grounded in a realism that's sorely missing from the majority of todays films, and is a welcome addition to Keaton's filmography.