Birdman

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

This extraordinarily ambitious black comedy about a desperate actor having a nervous breakdown is funny, sexy, brave and bold.

Michael Keaton, former star in blockbusting Hollywood superhero franchise Batman plays Riggan Thomas, former star in the blockbusting Hollywood superhero franchise Birdman.

That was twenty years ago and now Riggan, aware of his age and lack of artistic legacy, wants to reboot his career as a serious artist by starring and directing in a Broadway adaptation of an important literary work.

However he’s beset by professional and personal problems – not least being haunted by his gravel voiced masked-man alter ego of yesteryear who preys on his many insecurities.

As an accomplished actor Riggan is an untrustworthy guide to his own existence and it may be best not believe anything he says, sees or shows us.

He has re-mortgaged his house to pay for the production but influential critic Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) threatens to bury the show and a former employee wants to sue him.

His daughter Sam (Emma Stone) is out of rehab and last minute replacement actor Mike (Edward Norton) is re-writing his lines and stealing the limelight.

Meanwhile co-star girlfriend Laura (Andrea Riseborough) is pregnant and manager Jake (Zach Galifianakis) is constantly lying to him.

Dressing rooms are trashed amid scenes of fights, affairs, drunks, drugs, and attempted suicide.

It all leads to an astonishing scene in Times Square where Riggan clutches at his rapidly shrinking dignity.

As shamelessly superb camerawork (Emmanuel Lubezki) and editing (Douglas Crise, Stephen Mirrione) create the astonishing illusion of a single continuous shot that lasts the entire film.

Dynamic and fearless performances embrace the vanity of the flawed characters and offer moments of insight creating an exhausting, energetic and constantly surprising experience.

Birdman is a soaring success.

★★★★★

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