Riggan Thomson’s finally made it to Broadway. He’s bringing his teenage hero-Raymond Carver’s- short story to Broadway-the Big Time: Riggin is starring in and producing this ultimate gamble in his career.
Riggan (Michael Keaton) has a few problems though. It’s two days to opening night, and his leading man goes out. No worries. He can get Mike Shiner ( Edward Norton) to fill the spot. Plus, Shiner knows all the lines of the play.
Big win there. Well, except that Mike Shiner is a bit of a loose cannon. Mike likes to freak out in the middle of dress rehearsal and ruin it for Riggan, who’s started drinking again. ” Only beer”, Riggan rationalizes.
Back in the dingy dressing room, beyond the lights, away from the stage- Riggan has a little conversation with himself. The self he used to be.
Riggan Thomson, the slightly balding, older looking not-so-romantic leading man has a partner these days: the ghost of his past.
Twenty years ago, Riggan was Birdman. Birdman, the movie, grossed a billion dollars worldwide.
Riggan the broken-down actor, cannot shake this fact, and this guy in the super-hero costume. Birdman lives not only on the screen, but inside Riggan’s own mind. How does a man escape his own mind? Deep- breathing and yoga and whiskey, marijuana and violents fist fights and temper- tantrums- all fail.
For an actor, the only cure for life’s problems is the “sincerity” of ” the moment”: the point in time when the audience is most enraptured by the story on the stage: When the audience is absolutely convinced that what the actor portrays is true.
Riggan, the cynical veteran actor, filled with real talent, and a true love of the art and craft of theater, has nowhere to escape from reality, unlike his beloved theater audience.
All the “bedtime stories” we rely on for solace and escape as civilians, from the actor’s perspective, are turned to nothing to actor Riggan.
The only solace is madness.
Perhaps this movie gives us a nuts and bolts definition/description/roadmap of the descent into madness.
Michael Keaton made this sad and claustrophobic and glorious movie become real. It is a tale of broken dreams. A difficult movie about the dreams of people who tell stories for a living.