Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar nominated film Birdman, aka The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, is a departure from the contemporary style of filmmaking. Iñárritu uses a technique that gives an illusion as if the entire film were shot in a single extended take. Birdman’s strong albeit bizarre dialogue and impeccable slapstick timing on one hand hark back to the works of the American screenwriter and playwright David Mamet, particularly Glengarry Glen Ross, while on the other, it strongly reminds of the films like Barton Fink and The Player in that it deglamorizes Hollywood while exposing its hypocrisies.
The movie tells the story of a washed up Hollywood actor—once famous for playing an iconic superhero called “Birdman”—as he battles both his inner demons and outer enemies in a desperate attempt to reinvent himself as a Broadway director by staging a new adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”.
Birdman offers a nice blend of realism, surrealism and magic realism. Vintage Iñárritu, Birdman doesn’t feed any definitive answers but rather allows the viewers to engage at their own intellectual planes. While the entire cast puts up a brilliant show, Michael Keaton and Edward Norton deserve special mention for their sublime performances. For Norton, Birdman marks a return to form. As to Keaton, he delivers a performance so emphatic and complete that it can be easily described as the performance of the decade. One wonders what kept him from unleashing himself on the celluloid all these years. A must watch!
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