Birdman is not as advertised. It is not a quirky dark comedy, but a claustrophobically relentless attack on modern-day life. Emma Stone screams it best: “You’re scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter! And you know what?! You’re right! You’re not important! Get used to it!” Michael Keaton plays a washed-up super-hero actor who tries to find relevance in his Broadway staging of Raymond Carver’s personally raw What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Ed loved her so much, he tried to kill her.
Inarritu’s film is an intense combination of the intellectual – akin to Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author – and visceral – offering an edit-less flow of images that winds through the serpentine backstage hallways and stairwells of a Broadway theatre, only briefly escaping to a bar, a tight balcony and a nightmarish run through Times Square. And while the film does tend toward polemics – with everyone, including a theater critic, overtly stating their points of view – it will leave you breathless, wondering what it is you just saw and when you might be able to see it again.