“Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Review by Tarek Fayoumi


Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” follows the story of a washed-up actor who use to receive a heavy amount of recognition, but has issues with his ego, his family, and it is all in the midst of a new Broadway show he is set to star in. The cinematography is done by Emmanuel Lubezki, who did the cinematography for “Children of Men” (2006), The photography for “Burn After Reading” (2008), “The Tree of Life” (2011), “Gravity” (2013), and this masterpiece “Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).” This film is about the stress of being famous on Broadway, and the ugly competition of critics reviewing Broadway productions. It is also like Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012), however with much more emphasis on the situation with many technical effects to make melancholy. Therefore, “Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” is a dark comedy, but is also spectacle.

The movie’s star, Riggan (Michael Keaton) is a man with many challenges ahead of him. The film starts off with him being in his imaginary mind-set with a voice speaking to him. While trying to figure out how his next production is going to workout properly, he happens to dysfunctions with his daughter Sam (Emma Stone). Sam is someone who has had to go through rehab and such for depression and probably other reasons (but her issues are not defined as much because she is not much of the focus of the subject). Riggan realizes also that his agent Jake (Zach Galifianakis) is desperate for his approval of a new cast member to join the ride for Riggan’s new production. Riggan is not easy to get along with on sides of the industry of Broadway. He is extremely self-centered. Surprisingly, in a heart-beat, Mike (Edward Norton) steps in to be a part of the production. Mike is talented but believes he has much more going than Riggan does and he always wants to receive attention on a variety of levels because he is obsessed with himself purely. Finally, there is one of the lead actresses of the production Lesley (Naomi Watts). Lesley is captivating and has high expectations as well but does not know if she can work with Mike or Riggan, given they can both be complete jerks. The characters in this film are all set for a recipe to be either a masterpiece or a disaster.

Mike is a strange man, on first sight, he may seem like a lady’s man (Norton generally appears that way in almost all of his films in the beginning). He is not afraid to expose himself or how he feels towards other people. In a glance between him and Sam he goes for his opportunity to get laid or to catch her eyes into her believing that she would want a relationship with him. He does the same with Lesley but goes overboard a bit. I am not going to explain anymore because if you want to know how twisted Mike really is, you will need to see the movie to find out for yourself.

The lead Riggan is quirky also, but his quirkiness plays into the film’s seriousness much more, however Norton’s role is oscar-worthy. In some moments, Riggan is seen having a bad day (on numerous occasions) or just stressed out to the extent. In those times, the voice comes back to him and he imagines his old character that earned him lots of appraisal and that character is “Birdman.” A character he played years ago but turned it down because he got bored with it. Just he does not know what he wants to be known as. Either between Riggan or “Birdman.” To be honest I think “Birdman” the name that makes his mark.

I love this movie, I am a huge fan of stage productions because of past experiences and ushering in Not-for-profit theater venues. The weird-world of “Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” makes seeing Broadway feel like a first from its immersive and creative background behind it.

Four stars.

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