Having walked away from the hugely popular “Birdman” movie franchise two decades earlier, actor Riggan Thomson (Keaton) is now trying to revive his stalled career by adapting a Raymond Carver story for Broadway. As star and director he juggles an arrogant co-star (Norton), his ex-druggie daughter Sam (Stone), and a combative theatre critic. Can Riggan block out the nagging doubts planted by his avian alter ego and pull off a triumph on opening night?
Inarritu’s razor-sharp dissection of the acting world combines biting satire with incisive observation of the human condition. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s camera glides around the narrow corridors of the St. James Theatre, (the action unfolding in an apparent single take), capturing Riggan’s nervous energy alongside the backstage mayhem. It’s the role of a lifetime for Keaton, but he’s equaled by a coterie of talented actors who consistently ace the dialogue-rich scenes. Brimming with meta-jokes, Inarritu has crafted a superb commentary on the pitfalls of fame and success. That’s showbiz!