Rave Reviews For Michael Keaton In “Birdman”

The first reviews are out for “Birdman,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s film starring Michael Keaton as a washed up movie star who achieved his greatest fame playing a superhero and is now trying to mount a vanity project on Broadway. The single take film just had its premiere at the Venice Film Festival where reviews have been gushing. Here’s just a sample:

“A quarter-century after ‘Batman’ ushered in the era of Hollywood mega-tentpoles – hollow comicbook pictures manufactured to enthrall teens and hustle merch – a penitent Michael Keaton returns with the comeback of the century, ‘Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),’ a blisteringly hot-blooded, defiantly anti-formulaic look at a has-been movie star’s attempts to resuscitate his career by mounting a vanity project on Broadway. In a year overloaded with self-aware showbiz satires, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s fifth and best feature provides the delirious coup de grace – a triumph on every creative level, from casting to execution, that will electrify the industry, captivate arthouse and megaplex crowds alike, send awards pundits into orbit and give fresh wings to Keaton’s career…” – Peter DeBruge, Variety

“Birdman flies very, very high. Intense emotional currents and the jagged feelings of volatile actors are turned loose to raucous dramatic and darkly comedic effect in one of the most sustained examples of visually fluid tour de force cinema anyone’s ever seen, all in the service of a story that examines the changing nature of celebrity and the popular regard for fame over creative achievement. An exemplary cast, led by Michael Keaton in the highly self-referential title role of a former super-hero film star in desperate need of a legitimizing comeback, fully meets the considerable demands placed upon it…” – Todd McCarthy, THR

“Nothing in Inarritu’s back catalogue can prepare you for this new direction. Many an auteur has switched genre and mood; seldom have we seen such a total change of sensibility. Because here, Inarritu, who in the past has been nothing if not sincere to the point of self-seriousness, suddenly shows us not just his anarchic, uproarious, mischievous sense of humor, but an almost impish delight in the further possibilities of a medium he’d already mastered. Far from resting on his laurels, Inarritu has, to echo one of the film’s central tenets, risked something. And that risk pays off with interest…” – Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

“This is, in at least two senses, the role of Keaton’s career. He summons up all the manic comic energy of his early work in films like Night Shift and Beetlejuice, but Riggan seems half-fried by it, and as the heat increases on all sides, you can almost smell him sizzling. And Keaton could hardly be better supported: Norton is uproarious as a preening, Method-acting nightmare; Watts and Riseborough note-perfect as actresses jangled by daft insecurities; Stone tremendous as the lone voice of reason, faltering and defiant…” – Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

“Inarritu’s latest has much to say – almost too much – about the culture of celebrity in the age of Twitter and YouTube, comic-book movies, authenticity, the role of the critic. Birdman is a rich, startlingly clever and multi-layered collage, with Inarritu creating a meta-universe of mirrors and performances upon performances. As the take goes on and on the growing feeling is one of careening non-stop towards disaster even as everyone insists that the show must go on, and it will all be alright on the night. This is an exhilarating piece of filmmaking, a tragi-comic gem and an immediate contender for Venice’s most coveted prizes…” – John Bleasdale, Cine Vue

“Riggan is a gift of a meaty, unflattering role for any middle-aged actor (’60 is the new 30, motherf–ker’ is one of the film’s many quotable lines), but feels absolutely tailored to Keaton’s strengths, and highly attuned to his career trajectory. It’s rare that you get such a bespoke fit between character and actor without feeling like someone is simply performing a version of themselves. I don’t think that’s what’s going on here; there’s none of that nudge-wink ‘check out what a great sport I am’ feeling you get when actors play themselves in supposedly vanity-free cameos. This is Keaton’s return in a role that resonates with real life, but does not seek to replicate it…” – Catherine Bray, HitFix

“Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and legendary cinematographer Emanuel Lubezki have used camera and editing tricks to make the film look like one continuous take, and while it sounds gimmicky, the constantly moving camera and seeming lack of edits underscore the jitteriness of the proceedings, from various characters desperately holding on to their fragile egos to the million catastrophes that beset those panicky final days before a Broadway opening….” – Alonso Duraide, The Wrap