By Sean van der Heijden, Copy Editor As you might have been able to tell by the title, I really don’t know what to think about ‘Birdman,’ the latest film by Mexican auteur Alejandro González Iñárritu. So many things about the movie are absolutely perfect—the acting, the direction, the cinematography, etc.—but the whole thing is just so ambiguous that I don’t know what to think about it.
The film is about a washed-up actor who used to be a blockbuster superhero, and tries to stage a comeback through starring in a Broadway play. Keaton is exceptional and delivers by far the best performance of his career. Other standouts are Edward Norton—who plays a cocky, pretentious co-star in the play—and Emma Stone, who plays the cynical, fresh-out-of-rehab daughter of Keaton’s character. Naomi Watts is great, too, as Norton’s ex, and Amy Ryan, Andrea Riseborough, and Zach Galifianakis round out the cast.
Additionally, the whole film is shot to look like one take. That means there are no cuts within the film to other scenes—it’s all just one constantly moving scene. It’s great art, but the film is literally nonstop—it just keeps going and going and going and going to the point where I just wanted it to stop so I could take a rest and breathe. I never realized how important cuts were within films.
Also, the soundtrack has the same issue. Instead of being mostly orchestral, like a traditional score, it is almost all percussion instruments. This was neat, but the music just gets annoying and I really wanted it to go away.
All of the technical marvels in the film are cool, but distracting from the actual story—which, it turns out, isn’t much. Honestly, the film just turns into a “life imitates art” example, which makes it incredibly predictable and hollow. While I was never bored and I definitely laughed at the darkly comic aspects of the movie, the problem is that ‘Birdman’ aspires to be so much more than it actually is.
As for the ambiguity of the film—especially the ending—I really can’t say much without spoiling it, but again it’s the same problem: ‘Birdman’ wants to be profound, it wants to make a statement, and wants to get you thinking. Because of its ambiguity, the film really only achieves the latter—and all I’m thinking about is how confused I am. A film can’t make a point if I don’t know what it’s trying to say, and ultimately ‘Birdman’ feels really important, but in the end turns out not to be.
Overall: 6.5 out of 10.