Entertainment"Birds of Paradise": To See or Not to See...

“Birds of Paradise”: To See or Not to See Amazon Prime’s New Youth Drama?


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The latest feminist wave, which the world is currently experiencing, has no signs of dying out. It is felt a lot, too, in the productions of the main platforms of streaming. However, this time I am not going to dedicate this space to an openly feminist film. “Birds of Paradise” (Amazon Prime) is, rather, about friendship and betrayal between women, about competition between them, and the dark threads that move behind.

In the shadow of “Suspiria” (Darío Argento, 1977), the basic plot scheme has its heroine, Kate (Diana Silvers), as an American teenager gifted for ballet, and who is going to study, in Paris, in a prestigious French academy. At school, she has to deal with the fearsome principal and teacher, Madame Brunelle (Jackeline Bisset), and with a special companion, Marine (Kristine Froseth), with whom she shares a room.

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A point in favor of this production is the strongly feminine look imposed by the director, Sarah Adina Smith. The North American sensitivity and “out of place” of the protagonists is also notorious – the script is based on a novel by the American Diana Abu-Jaber-; especially Kate, who looks lost on stage with much of the disturbing décor and photography inspired by Argento’s “Suspiria”.

It is true that ballet academies have become, in film and TV, common places to build temples of pain and cruelty. However, Adina Smith manages to give thickness and nuances to the human group in which Kate and Marine enter.

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With a low key light, and dreamlike moments, sometimes psychedelic, brought about by the montages of the dances, the film manages to be enveloping also thanks to the music –where the lessons learned from the music are noted. remake from Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” (2018). Kate thus enters the quicksand of that strange ballet palace, and her relationship with Marine turns into a dangerous psychological game.

“Birds of Paradise” puts in conflict, the possibility of a friendship, with the brutal competition in which only one can win.

And if the film comes out, it is, in the first place, because it places the viewer beyond a simple television realism, proposing an atmospheric immersion that clings to representations of dance. The very young Diana Silvers and Kristine Froseth, on the other hand, construct empathetic portraits, full of vulnerability, which reach an area marked by manipulation and mistrust, where it is difficult to know who is honest.

The problems of the film are notorious too, and they have to do with not taking its dramatic substrate to the last consequences. In that sense, it is less risky than “The Black Swan” or “Suspiria”. Although it manages to dismantle the idea of ​​”clean” competition, and reveals the backroom of the “success” race – full of dark threads moved by money and sex -, it does not quite convince with its outcome, in which It seems that the director leaves the door open to a complete reconciliation, or to a somewhat idyllic ending that is, yes, too artificial.


Original title: “Birds of Paradise”

Gender: Drama

Country and year: USA, 2021

Director: Sarah Adina Smith

Actors: Diana Silvers, Kristine Froseth, Jacqueline Bisset, Caroline Goodall.

Qualification: Three stars (3)


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