"And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on earth."
-Raymond Carver, A New Path to the Waterfall
So, I guess to boil down the plot of the movie is you have an aging actor who is trying to revamp his image/career by making the transition from film (he had starred in action hero movies in his younger years as "Birdman". Which just makes you giggle as Michael Keaton (the lead) was Batman back in the day. I mean, they probably did that on purpose but still, I'm easily amused) to the stage. It's pretty much the move that all actors go to when needing an image change. It's classic. Which is a whole other theme, respect vs popularity: respect being the actors who earn their living giving 'authentic' performances on the stage to more snobby crowds vs popularity; rom com/action hero actors who earn big but don't have the respect of the more discerning of the performing arts cognoscenti. I mean, my personal opinion is there is room for blockbusters AND art pieces and everything in between. I mean, I'm not always in the mood for spoiled adults past their prime talking out their existential crisis' (I do that enough in my own head). Sometimes I want Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks to freaking meet/cute and entertain me with banter, darn it! And sometimes I don't, sometimes I want something else. Anywho, I'm digressing.
The lead, his name is Riggan. And he has adapted Raymond Carver's "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" into a play. It's pretty much his last ditch effort to attempt a shot at relevancy. In the play, the tight cast of about four pontificate often about love and so on. At the end of the play, he walks in on his wife of many years having an affair. He says, when finding out she no longer loves him: "I don't exist". Another line he says is "why do I have to beg you to love me?" At the very beginning of the movie, the audience is introduced to the above quote. Throughout the movie, Riggan talks a lot of wanting to be loved, appreciated, known, and so on--but also about the frustration of knowing people appreciate him only as Birdman. Type-casty angst as I call it. (It's a thing, it's why all british actors quit after 2 minutes of playing a character it seems and it will be the death of me, I'm looking at YOU Sybil and Matthew! I still wish David Tennant was The Doctor. Sigh, us Americans.) Back to what his character in the play says when finding out he doesn't have love:
"I don't exist".
"Why do I have to beg you to love me?"
Those lines (probably because we see the same act several times throughout the movie) really resonated with me. I feel they so accurately represent what we as humans think when we feel we don't have the type of "love" we think we deserve. I know you can read the above quote several different ways. It could be read as a simple "all you need is love", a person stating that they really only wanted one simple thing from life. I read it, in regards to the movie as "I need to be BELOVED here on earth, and that's really my only endgame. I'm willing to throw away real love to be "beloved" at all costs".
And Riggan, he really did have love. The love of his ex-wife, the love of his daughter, which he basically didn't value until it was almost too late--and he could truly see how he had in many ways totally missed out.
We humans get so mixed up with what love really is. I see it every day, in myself, in others, online, at work... All self value and motivation placed on if others approve, if they are jealous, if they are inspired by us, and so on. I mean, Instagram is basically one big WHY DO I HAVE TO BEG YOU TO LOVE ME?! We have all felt the slow seemingly fade from existence when we are not validated or appreciated by others in the way we feel we should be. I mean it really is actually hilarious the extent of how much we think we need to be valued by everyone around us. I'm not saying this in a self deprecating way, but in an honest way. Myself included. We all want to be smart, funny, charming, amazing, sought after, talented, the "it" person. In whatever circle we are in. I mean sometimes I find myself ridiculously jealous of the "it" Christian Blogger getting another book deal. Like, why do people care about what she has to say?
What do you talk about when you talk about love?
This is what I want to say about love:
I think, it's such a relief for believers that we don't have to keep searching and begging people to love us. Hello! We are loved by the most perfect love that is so much bigger and ridiculous than winning awards, being "remembered" in history, accolades. I don't know why, but watching the movie just brought to my attention my own struggle with wanting to be "beloved" and how in many ways I have been ignoring my true value to the One whose value I should care about the most.
Now I'm not sure how to end this post...
To sum up:
Loved the movie.
Can't wait to see it again.
Convicted to remember my value in Christ.
Glad I'm not actress. (false, I'm not glad about that! ;) )