Study Guide

Birdman Love

Love

As the letters of the Raymond Carver poem, "Late Fragment," disappear alphabetically, four letters remain. From left to right and top to bottom they read A-M-O-R.

Amor is the Spanish word for love. These letters seem to be the leftover, haphazard fragments of a fragment; a hidden love that materializes out of the chaos, just as Riggan's love for his family finally finds the surface of his entropic life in the final act…or maybe Iñárritu just wanted to subliminally tell us to love his movie, you never know.

SYLVIA: You know, just because I didn't like that ridiculous comedy you did with Goldie Hawn did not mean that I did not love you. That's what you always do: you confuse love for admiration.

This goes back to Riggan's need to be respected. He doesn't understand the difference between someone respecting his work and someone loving who he is outside of it. The lines between his reality and the fictions he lives in have become blurred (e.g. Birdman) so that Sylvia's dislike of his movie makes him feel unloved.

LAURA, PLAYED BY LAURA: I didn't want that baby. Not because I didn't love Nick, and not because I didn't love the idea of it, but just because I wasn't ready to love myself.

The real Laura want's a baby, even if she doubts her parenting skills, but we can't say the same for Riggan. He doesn't manage to cover his ambiguous baby feelings with fake excitement, and we think that he's a bit too focused on himself and his reputation to care for, or to want to care for, a baby. It's a lack of self-acceptance that both play-Laura and Riggan struggle with.

ED, PLAYED BY RIGGAN: What's the matter with me? Why do I always end up having to beg people to love me?

TERRI, PLAYED BY LESLEY: Eddie, please, give me the gun. Look at me, I was drowning. I'm just not capable of—you, you deserve to be loved, Eddie. You do.

ED, PLAYED BY RIGGAN: I just wanted to be what you wanted. Now I spend every f***ing minute praying to be somebody else, somebody I'm not. Anybody.

MEL, PLAYED BY MIKE: Okay, j-j-just put the gun down Ed. She just doesn't love you anymore.

ED, PLAYED BY RIGGAN: You don't, do you?

TERRI, PLAYED BY LESLEY: No.

ED, PLAYED BY RIGGAN: And you never will?

TERRI, PLAYED BY LESLEY: I'm sorry.

Those "me's" in the first line are italicized to show Ed's emphasis. We can see that this desperate act of violence, first against Lesley and Mel and then against himself, is selfishly motivated. It's people loving him that he's concerned about, not him loving Lesley.

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