Today for the second time I watched Birdman. A movie that touched me deeply. How unconvincing is the title which made ‘BIRDMAN or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance’ the movie with the biggest title to win an Oscar. Alejandra, the director, showed what a marvellous vision he has.
The movie begins where a certain Riggan Thompson, essayed beautifully by Michael Keaton, is preparing for his first ever Broadway show which he has written, directed and will be acting in. ‘Too Ambitious’ regards another main lead as it would be Riggan’s first ever stage performance. Riggan, who is a yesteryear’s celebrity, had in the past featured as a popular comic book character ‘BirdMan’. The people remember BirdMan but not the real Riggan Thompson as his daughter rightly points out.
This Broadway show, Riggan tells his wife, is his only chance to do something worthful. Instead it feels as a fight with his alter-ego, the character Birdman keeps running in his head, talks how his life would have been had he agreed to do a certain Birdman-4 movie, sequel to his other work, and how he landed into the place he was then. As he keeps disregarding him as just a ‘Mental Formation’, he keeps regretting how people no more understand philosophical stuff and only enjoy the comic book IronMans, SuperMans and Spidermans. It’s the most intriguing part of the story, the unconventional talks with his own alter-ego, how it keeps eating him in and out.
Mike Shiner, another beautiful character created by Alejandra, stuffed with ambitions and an awesome screen presence. His altercations with Riggan are so impressively shown. Tabitha, the critic from The Times, a person who vows Riggan that she will be destroying his show after the opening night by penning a poor review, also is a charm to watch on screen. Jake, Riggan’s best friend and producer of the play is amusingly genuine, especially when he says ‘I am the one who is keeping the boat afloat’.
More than everything, the type of direction style adopted for the movie is something that I have never seen. So many long, single shots, smart camera angles and the fluid transition from one act to the other is the heart of the film. A special mention to the largely orthodox drum score which keeps hammering in the background. Probably capturing the chaos present in Riggan’s head.
Now coming to the title ‘BIRDMAN or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance’ is so apt. The critics never had expected that Riggan’s play would be so perfect, especially after what happens in the climax. Moreover ‘The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance’ is the title Riggan finds on the front page of The Times, describing his play. To sum up everything, Birdman is a comically thoughtful fight of Riggan with everyone surrounding him and the BirdMan that resides within him. He comes out of it pure and honest, accepting how he always has carved for the admiration that he missed.
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