Birdman movie review

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was the 2015 winner for Best Picture at the Oscars and I’m sure few are surprised.  The movie has excellent performances, directing, cinematography, lighting, screenplay, the editing is flawless, the score is amazing, sound design and mixing…  It’s a really f@cking good movie.  Here’s why.

Besides everyone involved in Birdman bringing more than their A game, the thing that really separates the movie from its peers (which I admittedly did not see all of) is that this flick takes chances.  It’s bold, makes no apologies and even makes the audience do a bit of work.  Most movies spoon feed us every plot point and while Birdman doesn’t necessarily play fast and loose with structure or anything like that, it’s still wonderfully complicated movie that I can’t wait to watch again.

spoiler alert

Blah, blah, blah, let’s talk about the ending!

I guess you can’t talk about the ending without talking about Michael Keaton’s character in general.  Although he’s not strictly a narrator, I think of Riggan as such.  More importantly, he’s an unreliable narrator – the first time we see him, he’s levitating.  When he’s alone, he controls objects via telekinesis, and this movie clearly does not exist in a universe where telekinesis is a thing – not to mention Birdman, the voice inside his head.  Therefore, we can’t trust everything he says us or that we see; sometimes, he is reacting to reality and sometimes, he’s just imaging what’s happening and sometimes he’s all out fantasizing.

Which brings me to the scene on the roof.  Initially, I thought he’d died here and the rest of the movie was how he imagined things would turn out, but once you see the cab driver chase him into the theater, I take that as irrefutable evidence that he doesn’t die until later on stage.  Therefore, that flight off the roof is him fantasizing and symbolic of the decision he’s made.  Now, he’s free of the shackles of this world even if he is still alive.  That’s why he’s so calm during intermission – he knows what he has to do.

Everything after he shoots himself is how he fantasizes things will work out:

  1. His wife still loves him and stands up for him
  2. He’s free of the Birdman persona
  3. He won over not just the New York Times critic, but the whole world
  4. There are no real negative consequences to his actions, only positive ones (“You’re going to get a brandishing weapons charge,” but Zach Galifianakis makes it clear it’s not a big deal.)
  5. His daughter loves and respects him and sees him how he wants to be seen – as special, as one who rises above the rest and will always be remembered

That sort of thing.  And, I think that is why Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and the other character’s thoughts and feelings are all pushed by the wayside once we get near the end of the film – they only matter in how they affect or make Riggan feel.  Even after Riggan realizes that he’s disrespected Sam’s (Emma Stone) rehab process, he still careless discards the toilet paper – maybe because he agrees; people and their problems are insignificant or whatever, but that’s, again, about his feelings and not about Sam or what she’s trying to tell him.

Even if you disagree with everything above, I’m betting that we can at least agree that Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)  is a fantastic movie worthy of accolades and repeat viewings for fans of comedy, drama and film in general.  This sort of movie doesn’t come around very often – it’s a perfect 10.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on February 23, 2015, in movie review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great review thank you. I concur with your comments. I’ve been wanting to review it ever since I saw it when it was first released. Its one of those films that stays in your mind for a very long. For me, its a four and half stars out of five film. The only five star review I’ve given is Son of Saul.

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