Cast: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan, Andrea Riseborough and Naomi Watts.
Plot Summary: (Courtesy of IMDB) A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory.
Everyone and their mother have been raving about this award season darling for months now. I have to say it did take a few views of the trailer before I was sold but I would have eventually watched it anyway as I really like some of the cast. Plus I’m a fan of darkly comical and satirical films so I was very willing to give it a go. I’m glad I did as it’s now my first favourite film of 2015.
Here Micheal Keaton plays our (super) anti-hero Riggan. Once the lead of a mega-successful superhero franchise, he’s now struggling to regain the fame he had twenty years ago. So he decides to write, direct and star in his own Broadway show, a kitchen sink melodrama which apparently also includes a sequence set in what appears to be an enchanted forest. However, the production is troubled from the get-go as he deals with egotistical actors, his strained relationship with his daughter and the voice in his head that just won’t go away.
I’ve seen Michael Keaton in a number of films and I’ve always thought he was a solid performer (although I feel almost ashamed to admit that the only film I’ve seen him in more than once is Jack Frost, which is slushy in both senses of the word). But here, he takes it to a whole other level. He delivers a highly commanding performance and is sure to put him back up on the Hollywood A-list. He is backed up by 2 powerhouse performances by Edward Norton and Emma Stone. I’ve always liked Norton in the films I’ve seen him in and his performance here is up there with American History X as being one of his finest. And as a big admirer of Emma Stone, I’m glad to see she starting to get meatier roles that she can sink her teeth into. Again, this is probably the best performance of her career and her scenes with Norton are some of the film’s highlights. There’s also great support from Naomi Watts (who has totally redeemed herself after Diana) and a rather brilliantly understated Zach Galifianakis who plays probably the saneist person in the whole film.
The film itself is highly entertaining throughout with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, biting satire and surrealism making it one of the most unique films to come out in a long time. And on a technical level, it is just astonishing. It has basically been shot and edited (beautifully may I add) so that the film looks like it was done in a single continuous take. This makes watching it a much more immersive experience for the audience.
It may not be your typical award season fare but it’s still a highly engaging work of art as well as one hell of a comeback from Michael Keaton.