Film Review: Birdman – 7/10

‘Popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige…’


Fading star and former Batman Michael Keaton plays fading star and former Birdman Riggan whilst notoriously difficult to work with but brilliant Ed Norton plays notoriously difficult to work with but brilliant Mike.

After four days I am still not sure what I think about Birdman. Brilliantly directed, but also overly pretentious. Expertly acted, but all the characters feel (purposefully?) like caricatures. The score fits perfectly, but also becomes a bit tiresome. Birdman is an enigma.

It is always great to see Ed Norton and Naomi Watts, but every character here feels like a kind of Wes Anderson cartoon. The performances aren’t bad, but at no point does anybody in this film feel like they could be an actual person who exists in real life, and the normally reliable Emma Stone’s bratty drug addict is just plain annoying.

It can’t be denied that Birdman is definitely ambitious, but ambition alone does not make a classic film. We are talking about a Best Picture winner here for Christ’s sake! On that subject, I am astounded that Birdman took home the Best Picture gong. Of the nominated films that I have seen, I would put Boyhood slightly ahead, and The Imitation Game, The Grand Budapest Hotel and (my favourite) Whiplash way ahead of Birdman.

So, is Birdman a brilliant Charlie Kaufman-esque satire on fame with art imitating life imitating art, or a daft self indulgent mess? To be honest, it’s a bit of both.