In the new dark comedy Birdman, Riggin (Michael Keaton) is a washed up actor with an ago bigger than his talent. After deciding to go to theater, Riggin adapts a Raymond Carver short story into a play and goes through the crazy process of making it. Armed with his Agent Jake (Zach Galifianakis) and freshly released from rehab daughter, Sam (Emma Stone), Riggin battles the voices of his long ago former character Birdman and his play itself. A last minute replacement adds actor Mike (Edward Norton) to play along side his girlfriend Lesley (Naomi Watts) and Riggin’s lover, Laura (Andrea Riseborough) in a play that at times seems more like a love letter to ego than a true adaptation of Carver. The film follows from a change in casting to disastrous previews nights to vicious critics and finally to opening night.
Birdman is a delicious dark comedy that at times feels almost too uncomfortable to watch. With a fantastic drum soundtrack and the sounds of New York city, the viewer is transported to the world of Riggin and his crew.
On February 7, 2015 at the Landmark Cinema in Los Angeles, Director Alejandro G. Inarritu and Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki did a brief question and answer session to discuss their work on the film. When Emmanuel Lubezki first received the call from Alejandro Inarritu regarding Birdman, he admits he didn’t want to be part of the project. Inarritu told him that he wanted to “do it all in one shot.” Admitting he didn’t think it was possible, Inarritu was seeking a film that looked like a single shot over an hour and a half. However, when it came to film, Inarritu changed things up. “We plan what we want to do on a film for years,” Inarittu said, “but you attract new ideas while doing it…it attracts things you don’t expect.” Two of these unexpected items were a comet and a beach covered in dead jelly fish. The comet, which appears when Riggan is in the middle of something spirited, helps represent an “on fire” attitude, says Inarritu,; especially when he truly feels all is working for him. Riggan also sometimes sees a series of dead jellyfish, representing not only a past stinging incident, but his personality when he is doubting everything and feels all is falling apart.
The film also spends a good deal of time not explaining itself. Lukezki commented that, “in American people get upset. ‘Why is this not explained’ or ‘what does the ending mean?'” Lukezki and Inarritu agree that the ambiguity is more important than the explanation and is far more “poetic.”
Inarritu admitted that anything could have gone wrong during the filming and that the tone could easily have been lost and veered away from the black comedy. “To make a film is easy. To make a good film is hard. To make a great film is a miracle.”