A film, food, travel & lifestyle blog by Sophie Elizabeth

5 January 2015

Film Review: Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2014) ★★★★

Under pressure from family (Emma Stone), dysfunctional cast members (Edward Norton) and his lawyer (Zack Galifianakis), Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton) is a fading star trying to regain his former glory. Having made his fortune as the star a former superhero franchise, Riggan attempts to direct and star in a Broadway production adapted from a Richmond Carver novel in a final bid at a career revival but his ego and cracking psyche return to haunt him.

Straight in with my first film review of 2015! Ticked straight off my 2015 list, Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Filmed seamlessly, as if in a single take, Birdman follows the frantic and fragile mind of Riggan Thompson. The opening titles are scattered, as are the titles that appear on screen to a jazz drum beat. What follows is dizzying and wonderful - dressed in the neon lights of New York City and soulful closeups reflecting the frantic yet fragile mind of our anti-protagonist. This seemingly art-house opening is no surprise, of course, given the direction by Alejandro González Iñárritu and Gravity cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki. Known more famously for the likes of Babel (2006) and Buitiful (2010), Alejandro González Iñárritu has established himself as a hard-hitting, drama director but is successful in releasing his first comedy via his dark sense of humour, clever writing and character development. With an award winning cinematographer by his side, the duo have created a piece that is visually as well as mentally stimulating.

It would seem that at first glance, Keaton, who once donned the black rubber mask as Batman, is perfect to play the aging, veteran superhero. The film makes constant digs at Superhero franchises and makes references to an endless stream of sequels and prequels from the likes of the Avengers and Iron Man. However, it would seem that Keaton is only at the top of his game as his performance is leaving audiences calling for Oscar nominations this year. Unlike any roles we have previously seen from Keaton, Riggan Thompson presents a whole new range to the actor's already stunning portfolio and next to Beetlejuice (1988). As an audience, we are lead to believe in Riggan's superhero powers but are snapped back in to reality when his wild hallucinations are made sense of in the real world. Despite his fragile frame of mind and unlikable personality, he is endearing and we root for him, longing for him to succeed even if Riggan and his friends and family can't do it for himself.

We learn soon in to the narrative that Riggan once had it all but let his ego be his own demise. A loving wife turned ex-wife whom he was unfaithful to; a daughter who ended up in rehab and an actress girlfriend who he is unclear on his feelings for. Having invested all his money from former Birdman fame and remortgaged his second home he should be leaving to his daughter, Sam, for the play - his career and sanity rely on the show. With all three previews failed through entire faults of their own, it seems that the reviews will end the success of the show and Riggan's life. 
With an all round well-written screenplay, stunning cinematography and cast performances, including some incredible scenes of classic Edward Norton that could bring about some supporting actor award rumours, Birdman is a refreshing and fantastic piece to kick off cinema of 2015. Visually pleasing, tantalising, explosive, emotionally and intellectually challenging and ultimately, hilarious - Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) gets a Sophie star rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Long may Keaton reign! 

I'm so excited for the film treats coming up - Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller, 2014) and Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014) are just around the corner so stay tuned! What did you make of Birdman? Leave your thoughts and comments below! 

Until next time, movie fans, 



  1. Great review! Keaton is excellent. I really like your writing style. Look forward to your reviews over the Oscar season


  2. I've been really excited to see this, ever since I heard about it and saw the trailer when it first appeared.

    I must go and check it out. Great review!


    1. Thanks very much :) It really is great if you get a chance to go! x

  3. excellent review and I really enjoyed the film. check out my blog if you like film :)


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