Swimming with sharks on Broadway
Drama-comedy/119 minutes/Opens today
: Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is an actor who walked away from lucrative sequels featuring him as the superhero Birdman. Now, with troubled daughter Sam (Emma Stone) by his side as his personal assistant, he wants to stage a high-minded play on Broadway to win critical respect.
DIRECTOR and co-writer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu wants audiences to feel grubby - not elevated - with Birdman, as he takes them down into the belly of Broadway, where people bicker and drive themselves insane over trivial issues such as reviews, hiring hot actors and a few lines in a script.
His new movie defines talkiness and much of the dialogue is confrontational. In almost every scene, characters use language as weapons - to manipulate, unnerve, distract and, of course, browbeat.
The zingers and comebacks just keep coming. That velocity of speech, coupled with a soundtrack that leans heavily on the solo drumming of Grammy-winning jazz percussionist Antonio Sanchez and the single-take camera work of Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, 2013), is a giddying, at times exhilarating, experience.
On screen is the world processed through actor Riggan Thomson's (Michael Keaton) ego, sitting atop a mind fracturing under stress.
He just wants everyone to love him on his own terms. It just so happens that, except for a few, the people from whom he craves love and respect happen to be sharks.