Michael Keaton has been very much missed as a leading man for over a decade now. He has made some great turns in both live action and animated films as secondary characters. Cars was some great voice work and he created a funny villain. The Other Guys was a very funny movie, if not completely ignorant of business/politics and he was one of the best parts of the movie. Not sure why he hasn’t been in a lot more movies for awhile, but his return to the big screen as the lead in something that looked like it encourages his talent was very welcome. How was it though?
Riggan (Michael Keaton) is a once huge star in a super hero movie franchise that is fighting to be relevant again with a new Broadway play. Haunted by his past mistakes he struggles to keep a cast together for opening night that includes new actor and hyper method actor, Mike (Edward Norton). As he struggles through this, he also struggles to connect with his assistant who also happens to be his daughter (Emma Stone). As he tries to balance all the things going on in his personal and professional life he tries to mount a comeback that matters and not let the voice in his head control him.
This is one the better films about the stage that has come out in awhile and has an interesting story and a phenomenal cast. Michael Keaton gives his best performance to date and I hope that he continues on this path so we can see him in better and better films. We’ll see. Zack Galifianakis turns in an equally great performance as Keaton’s characters business manager. Norton does well, which is no surprise and, from what I’ve read on the movie, he is also poking fun at himself and reports that he is difficult to work with. Stone has some great lines and is equally capable to keep up with everyone else. Combined with acting is the engaging and interesting story.
The films theme of what it means to strive for relevance in life and the pursuit of it is one that we can all connect with easily. Riggins search for significance and meaning as his previous bad decisions in life creep up on him comes as not only heartbreaking but also pitiable. The search for meaning in one’s life is a very real one and this movie shows it uncompromisingly. The only issue within the story is that the end shows that it means nothing. In the end, as is too often, when someone reaches the goals that they have and they were all self-serving instead of serving something outside of themselves it ends up meaningless. Riggan gets what he wants, showing the critics and naysayers that he had something to offer but it seems like he doesn’t feel what he suspects he would have, joy in his new relevance As others are excited by what he did and gleefully tell him, he sits calmly and nods with a soft agreement.
There’s no show of happiness in him, which after spending the time through the characters journey to get there seems a bit disappointing. But when you think about it more it is what this world teaches us. From a spark that created the universe we evolved to where we are now we’re told. If there is no meaning in our own creation, what is the point of finding meaning in life? In the end its all for not, so really the obvious question is why do it then? In a world where relativism and liberalism continue to choke out any true morality this is it. As Emma Stones character tells her father earlier in the film, “You’re doing this because you’re scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter. And you know what? You’re right. You don’t. It’s not important. You’re not important. Get used to it.” For those of us who call upon the name of Christ can’t disagree more.
Give this one a shot if you like a thinking man’s movie or anything having to do with acting or the theater
3 and ½ stars out of 4