Let’s face it, it’s not for the sake of art. It’s because you want to feel relevant again. Well, there’s a whole world out there where people fight to be relevant every day. And you act like it doesn’t even exist! Things are happening in a place that you willfully ignore, a place that has already forgotten you. You’re the one who doesn’t exist. You’re doing this because you’re scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter. And you know what? You’re right. You don’t. It’s not important. You’re not important. Get used to it.”
What do you see when you look into a mirror; hollow and cold sacks of self pity or egotistical mighty beasts of glory? A dying leaf or a blossoming tree? A burning nebula or a shooting star? A dissolving planet or an ever expanding galaxy?
“What is it, that you want in life?” – the first verses onscreen captures the entirety of complexities that encompasses Birdman. When a worn out celebrity (Michael Keaton as Riggan Thomson) dips his hands in redemption and co-direct / co-produce / self act in a Broadway to convince himself, more than the world, about his artistic flair – things spiral down. So much so that in an instance, he runs almost naked through a crowded Times Square in a masterfully directed symbolism to the frailty of his flabbergasted ego. There are broken marriages to account for along with carrying the responsibility of being a failed father to his daughter (Emma Stone as Sam). It all weighs down, every speck of dust that revolves around Riggan reeks of disappointment and is masterfully executed in ways of mocking amusement by Innaritu.
Sadly, Birdman is a faded reflection of us – the mild sparks who never touch fame and are constantly searching for acceptance, redemption, meaning and approval. Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu has skillfully woven everything into one giant fireball of an asteroid that hurtles towards Earth to shake our foundations from its very core. It pits love against admiration, happiness against fame, death against existence and like a scornful paradox, touches the skies while being extremely grounded in realities. But what does is matter and why should it matter? Who are we in actuality and what does our life weigh? Are we all not mere things? Self absorbed, pretty little fragile things? And well, things are just things, not what is said about them.
And who else would have been a better choice to play Riggan Thomson than a hugely underrated washed up actor trapped inside the Bat costume for most of his life – Michael Keaton. Watch him tearing apart a vengeful critic in a silent corner of a lonely bar and you would know that it has come from somewhere deep within himself. Razor sharp writing along with Emmanuel Lubezki’s single shot fluid technique of cinematography elevates Innaritu’s ambitious child to realms of magnificence.
An endearingly towering technical marvel, a modern classic and probably one of the most weightless existential take of the decade, Birdman is profoundly mesmerizing. The jellyfishes are dying as the birds are flying, can anything ever be more beautiful?