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Birds Of Paradise Review: Not Quite Black Swan, But Seductively Entertaining

While Birds of Paradise stumbles in some areas, it then pirouettes into something darkly intriguing that will have viewers waiting on the next step.

To be a ballerina is to have incredible discipline and determination. With all the sacrifices — both physical and emotional — that go into ballet training, it’s no wonder that the profession makes for such great drama. The most famous example of this is perhaps Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. Amazon’s latest original movie, Birds of Paradise, might not be as highbrow, but it’s still fascinatingly entertaining. Written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith and based on the novel Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small, the atmospheric feature digs into a thorny relationship between two aspiring dancers to varying degrees of success. While Birds of Paradise stumbles in some areas, it then pirouettes into something darkly intriguing that will have viewers waiting on the next step.

The film begins when working class dancer Kate (Booksmart‘s Diana Silvers) earns a scholarship to a prestigious and competitive ballet academy in Paris, France. With her gym clothes and Converse, she sticks out like a sore thumb and almost immediately earns the ire of returning star Marine (Kristine Froseth). Marine is back after the tragic death of her twin brother, and both she and Kate have their eyes on their school’s prize: A contract with the Opéra national de Paris. What first begins as an intense rivalry turns into something far more twisted as Marine and Kate draw closer, particularly after they pledge to win the prize together.

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