Written by Yosra Osman

Arts

A Flight of Hilarious Fantasy

Golden Globe winner and Oscar frontrunner Birdman is in cinemas now. Yosra Osman took a look.

birdman

What goes on in the mind of an actor who played a superhero with feathers? You probably don’t care, but Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman is waiting in the wings to change your mind.

Birdman tells the story of Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), an actor trying to revitalise his career on Broadway. Any ties with reality are not coincidental – Keaton played Batman in the ’90s and you can practically feel him (and the creators) winking and nudging throughout. It’s all part of the charm.

There’s more to the film than a man trying to lose his beak and become a serious actor, however. Iñárritu effortlessly blends themes, including narcissism, family ties, high art versus low art, and reality versus fantasy. Add to this a sprinkling of magic realism and a soundtrack of jazzy drum solos and you have a film that sounds insane, but really works.

Birdman kept me chuckling despite underlying themes of melancholy and I found myself relating to and caring about egotistical people I should probably hate. Iñárritu has great help in the form of cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who won an Oscar for his work on Gravity last year and will probably win again this year for his help in constructing one long, beautiful take.

The screenplay is electric with some killer dialogue delivered perfectly by an impressive ensemble cast. Everyone’s great in this film, not least Keaton, who gives the performance of his life. The Golden Globes bestowed on Sunday night for both Best Screenplay and Lead Actor in a comedy or musical were completely deserved.
There are also wonderful turns from a sincere Emma Stone and the brilliantly self-absorbed Edward Norton. Even those with limited screen time make an impact – one of the most effective moments comes from an authoritative Lindsey Duncan, whose voice drips with commanding acidity when telling Keaton she’s going to “kill” his play.

This is top-notch cinema and a bizarrely brilliant ride. Even if the bird costume on the poster puts you off, give it a chance, because you might end up believing a man can fly.

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Written by Yosra Osman

Yosra Osman is a mid-twenties film fan and self-confessed daydreamer of dangerous proportions