First of all, the film definitely needs to be praised for its unique approach; having all of the film as one (apparently) continuous shot is a brave move and it definitely works. It was a challenge for the actors and crew involved but they all perform excellently and it is clear that this movie was made by a very talented group of people.
The performances are at the heart of this movie and they are indeed excellent. Michael Keaton gives a genuinely moving performance, though my personal favourite was Edward Norton, who powers through the film, makes an noticeable impact and left me thinking about his performance above all else. Saying this, all of the cast were excellent.
This movie is a perfect marriage of film and theatre; there is definite logic to having the film appear as one long take, to give it the same feel as a piece of theatre and it is clear throughout the film that there is a certain amount of respect for works of theatre, though it is slightly less complimentary to theatre critics!
Certain themes are also successfully presented throughout the piece, such as the role of modern social media, the dark side of fame and personal sacrifice, among others. I also loved the references to popular culture, such as “The Avengers” and “Batman”, of course!
“Birdman” is also very visually appealing; Broadway is presented beautifully, the buildings are awe-inspiring and at certain points, I genuinely felt as though I was part of this world. On a similar note, the “action” sequences are excellent and the film does indeed have some wonderful visual effects. I was also very impressed that the cameras didn’t show in the dressing room mirrors – very impressive technological editing methinks!
When thinking about films that I have just seen, I often compare them to other, similar works. In the case of this film, however, I found that there was nothing to compare it to; I realised that this film is very different and that nothing like this has been done before, though someone recently made a comparison to “Black Swan”, given the central character’s battle with their dark side. This is definitely a valid comparison and in all fairness, “Black Swan” managed this particular theme somewhat more effectively, with a darker, more shocking psychological edge.
I can’t really give any major negative points, though I will say that it is perhaps slightly too long. I am also unsure about the ending; I would have perhaps like to have seen the film end a scene or two earlier, on the final stage scene. That’s about it.
In conclusion, this is an extremely ambitious, unique film and the cast/crew’s extremely hard work was definitely not in vain. I don’t think that it’s perfect, but the movie does boast excellent performances, especially from Michael Keaton and Edward Norton and it is the closest thing to “cinematic theatre” that there has been for a while, maybe ever.