Ignorance would have been blissfully indulgent if only I had not willingly subjected myself to this quixotic, sophistic expose on the cons of action films and their heroes; the bane of vindictive critics; ageing actors on a downward spiral into moral turpitude, and their drug-addicted progeny. “Unexpected’ trouble bamboozled the viewer in the initial scene: “Riggan Thompson” aka “Birdman” , levitating in the lotus position, conversing with his alter ego “Birdman”; he is directing and starring in a Broadway play based on a short story by Raymond Carver (1938-88), “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” (a subjective premise, never fully addressed); Michael Keaton soars as the telekinetic flight-risk, just craving the archaic respect of his “Birdman”- action- hero days.
When one actor is purposely injured in rehearsal, famed and infamous “Mike Shiner” (pulsating, iconoclastic performance by Edward Norton) turbulently steps in, shatters harmony, injects fire and brimstone into the production; the film flows effortlessly with their confrontations.
“Birdman” opens a myriad of hypothesizes, frustratingly inconclusive: power of celebrity, elusive longevity of notoriety; reference to Icarus, flying arrogantly too close to the sun; Macbeth’s mad soliloquy about the “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, then is heard no more”, Riggan’s nemesis; antagonism between performer and those who critique; competitive egos, maniacally obliterate familial relationships.
Ultimately, fantastical, whimsical metaphors fizzle; “Birdman”, like Carver’s protagonist just can’t get it right.