The cast and crew, fly high in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), directed by visionary Alejandro González Iñárritu. Michael Keaton stars as Riggan Thomson, a washed-up actor who never bounced back from his peak stardom days as part of a 1990s superhero franchise, and who is desperate to gain back some spark for his faded career. Riggan attempts to jolt himself back into the limelight through the triple threat of writing, directing and starring in a Broadway adaptation of Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.
Much of the film’s content can be compared to Keaton’s own career and his peaking success in the late 80s/early 90s with Tim Burton’s Batman films, and although parallels are uncanny and speculation can be made as to why Keaton took on the project, the truth is that the actor’s persona never oversteps that of Riggan for those allegations to hold substance. For the most part, dormant and not to the level of Batman, Keaton has held his ground in Hollywood, taking on memorable roles in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown and Soderbergh’s Out of Sight and commercial appeal with The Other Guys, Toy Story 3, and the recent remake of RoboCop. As opposed to Keaton, the character of Riggan has lost touch with modern times. Akin to Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd., who can’t migrate from silent to talkie films, Riggan can’t seem to adjust to the Twitter-infested, hyper-desensitized, YouTube celebrity landscape of the modern day audience. To try and escape from his substance-lacking typecast, he pursues art and regains glory on Broadway.
Birdman is crafted with a healthy dose of precision and passion. Iñárritu and Keaton, in particular, have the dedication in performance and design to set the film apart from any other of the year. It’s a towering achievement, one that combines stellar performances and brazen cinematography into one indulgent pleasure.
— Christopher Clemente