On the surface, the new Birdman trailer tells the story of a washed-up actor named Riggan Thomson, played by Michael Keaton, struggling to re-establish himself as a legitimate actor and human being, but Alejandro Iñárritu is anything but a surface director and his new film plumbs the depths of actor ego in a way that leaves the hairs on the back of our neck standing on end.
In the film, Keaton's character is tortured by the fame he achieved in his past role as Birdman, a comic book hero, and he struggles with escaping from the iconic figure's shadow by writing, directing and starring in a (presumably Broadway) play. In the trailer, we see a shining example of this when he is getting interviewed and all the interviewer wants to focus on is the fact that there could have been a Birdman 4 if only Thomson would have agreed to it.
Here's what else we've learned since the first trailer dropped last month.
The film, which Fox Searchlight is billing as a dark comedy, was simply titled Birdman in the first trailer, but now it is being promoted as Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance. Since Keaton's character is wrestling with himself and the world around him, this could be a nod to his own ignorance or it could be indicative of some redeeming turn his character will experience as he allows his ignorance to pull him deeper into the rabbit hole of the self-aggrandizing fantasy he's mired in.
The first trailer featured a raspy Michael Keaton voice-over that could have been Thomson or his alter ego, Birdman. The second trailer makes it pretty clear, though, that that deep, rattly voice belongs to Thomson's alter ego, Birdman, who now taunts him at every turn.
In the first trailer, we just got a brief peek at Stone, but here we see her locked in an emotional argument with her father, Thomson, whom she exclaims "doesn't matter." As the trailer progresses, however, we see her carrying flowers into a hospital wing where someone lies in a hospital bed with a severely bandaged face. Whether it's her dad or Edward Norton (whom we see her kissing in the first trailer), we can't be sure. But the complex father-daughter/daughter-falling-for-the-man-her-dad-punches relationship has us seriously intrigued.
The trailer begins with a voice-over as Keaton hovers in mid-air. As it progresses, it becomes apparent that Keaton's character's grip on reality is slipping and these moments of "magic" are really bits of mental fantasy imposing themselves on Thomson's life. At one point, he's even standing at the edge of a building preparing to jump, convinced that he will fly. Whether he actually jumps or not could be debated, as by then, the fantasy and reality seem impeccably blended, leaving us wondering what is real and what is delusion.
Birdman opens in theaters on Oct. 17.
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