'Birdman' is a movie to watch after rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival

'Birdman' stars Michael Keaton as an actor who is famous for playing a superhero and is now starring in a play on Broadway.

Tony Gentile/Reuters
'Birdman' stars Michael Keaton.

The film “Birdman,” which stars Michael Keaton as an actor who famously starred in a superhero and is now attempting to act in a show on Broadway, opened to almost universally rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival.

The movie, which opened the festival, also stars “Magic in the Moonlight” actress Emma Stone as the daughter of Keaton’s character, Riggan Thomson; “Diana” actress Naomi Watts as an actress who dreams of making it big; and Edward Norton of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” as Mike Shiner, an egotistical actor. It’s directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of “Biutiful” and “Babel.”

Many reviews of the movie so far are wildly positive, with Variety critic Peter Debruge writing that Keaton delivers “the comeback of the century.” 

“[The movie is] 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,” he wrote. “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.” 

Meanwhile, Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter wrote of the film, “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… An exemplary cast, led by Michael Keaton… fully meets the considerable demands placed upon it by director Alejandro G. Inarritu… The film's exhilarating originality, black comedy and tone that is at once empathetic and acidic will surely strike a strong chord with audiences looking for something fresh.”

And Telegraph critic Robbie Collin found the movie to be a “beautiful, hilarious, film-defying film… 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.” 

However, Guardian reviewer Xan Brooks was less impressed by the film, writing that “the acting is clamorous verging on the indulgent,” though he found that “the script cuts like a knife even when the editor does not… [but] it’s a depthless, self-absorbed film.” 

“Birdman” hits theaters on Oct. 17.

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