In “Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance,” Michael Keaton plays an actor named Riggan Thomson, who first appears hovering several inches above his dressing room floor, deep in meditation. He’s trying to ignore the voice of the title character, his alter ego, who takes the form of the comic book character he once played and whose superpowers he now seems able to conjure at the drop of a black leather cowl. Thomson is directing and starring in an ambitious adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story. As if that bid for artistic legitimacy isn’t freighted enough, Thomson also is trying to grapple with the personal life he neglected for years while pursuing fame in Hollywood, including his fractured relationship with his daughter, Sam (Emma Stone), a new girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough) and his ex-wife, Sylvia (Amy Ryan), who pops in and out of his preparations for opening night like an even-tempered, clear-thinking visitor from another, far more self-aware planet.
"…a quiet, un-showy one-man master class in humor, pathos, physical vulnerability and dimly dawning wisdom…"
- from review from The Washington Post
Questions For Discussion
- What does the subtitle “The UnexpectedVirtue of Ignorance” mean?
- What does all the drumming serve?
- Was Riggan searching for a new story?If so, did he find it?
- Riggan tells his ex-wife that the voice in his head tells him the truth. Does it?
- Why is the argument between Riggan and the critic Tabitha intriguing?
- Did you find yourself cheering for or disgusted by Riggan?
- Among other things, the voice of Birdman could be seen as an inner tape for RIggan. What tapes cycle through your mind?
- Would you “like” the tween that Sam put out? Would you comment on it?
- What minor character do you like or identify with the most?
- Which quote or line of dialogue strike you the most?
- Riggan: “I wasn’t even present in my own life, and now I don’t have it, and I’m never going to have it.” Have you ever felt like this? How would you respond if someone said this to you?
- Which biblical theme or story does the movie reflect?
- The ending. What happened? Is it satisfying?