Based on the novel, Bright Burning Stars, by A. K. Small, Birds of Paradise is a new drama landing on Amazon Prime Video today. The movie – written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith – stars Diana Silvers, Kristine Froseth, and Jacqueline Bisset, and tells the story of two dancers competing for a place at a prestigious French ballet.
In the film, Kate Sanders and Marine Elise Durand are dancers who attend an elite ballet academy in France. At the academy, they practice their performances and hone their skills, all in the hope they will be chosen to win a contract to join the Opéra national de Paris.
But there is only one contract, and the competition is fierce. As they get closer to the prize, Kate and Marine will find their friendship is tested, as they push themselves to become the best of the best.
Now, here’s the thing about Birds of Paradise: The movie is shot well, features a decent soundtrack, showcases good performances from everyone involved and if you’re a fan of ballet, then there are plenty of dance sequences too. But Birds of Paradise is not very compelling.
Thirty minutes into the movie I struggled to find any interest in the story. After almost two hours, my feelings remained exactly the same.
I’m not well-versed in ballet, so at first, I wondered if perhaps my inability to connect with the film was down to the subject matter. I then decided, this simply wasn’t the case.
I’m not a fan of boxing, and yet I love the Rocky movies. I have little interest in the work of actor Adam Sandler, but I found plenty of enjoyment in the 2004 rom-com, Fifty First Dates.
I don’t have to be entirely into something to find interest or engagement in the subject, I just need material which can grab me. Nothing in Birds of Paradise grabbed me and for the most part, I was bored.
On a technical level, Birds of Paradise is fine. The issue here is that it never thrilled me, amazed me, or took me anywhere new or imaginative.
In terms of the story, the film plays out almost exactly as expected: Two students, who start as rivals, become friends, and compete for a contract. There’s some mild drama along the way, a dash of nudity, and a tiny bit of conflict, but nothing that you wouldn’t expect from a movie about young people in a situation like this.
To be frank, there are more dynamic ways to tell this story, and this is something which remained a constant thought in my mind throughout the entirety of this film. I kept willing the story to become more exciting, and yet, it never happened and it all seemed to travel along at one note.
As already highlighted, Birds of Paradise looks good, and benefits from some great shots, but once again, it is nothing which pushes this film into must-see territory. And the same can be said for the lighting, music, costuming, and staging, which all bring their A-game, but it doesn’t really make any difference.
Birds of Paradise isn’t a dreadful picture – it’s just dull and feels uneventful. It plods along, doing its thing, then ends. Will I remember this film in years to come? No, I won’t.
Unless you are a huge fan of ballet, you have a burning desire to watch this movie, or your TV set is on the blink and you can’t switch the film off, I would suggest skipping Birds of Paradise. There’s nothing here to excite or thrill, and there are better uses of your time.
Not awful, just not anything to praise. I expect this movie will fade into the background and be largely forgotten.