Birds Of Paradise: Review
Electric YA adaptation of the genre
Anger that’s kept inside, raw emotions that pour into dance, romance, darkness, unbreakable bonds that break, enemies turned into friends turned into lovers turned into enemies and then friends again.. WOAH!
I don’t remember the last time I enjoyed an Indie film so much. Probably Joel Coen is right. Streaming is good as it lets such experimental films, that give birth to future stars, exist. They (Froseth and Silvers) were both phenomenal.
My heart was pumping so fast during the entire movie. It was dark enough but at every minute I felt like it could turn from dark to scary to horrifying in a heartbeat. It’s like waiting for a jump scare but way, way creepier. The music amplified every scene to an extreme. I didn’t know what to expect at any moment. Will Marine betray Kate? Will Kate kill Marine? Will Marine commit suicide? Are they in love? Is Kate using Marine now? Would they ditch Felipe and dance as partners? Anything was possible. But more importantly..
..The Story! It’s so rare that an arthouse/independent movie has a solid screenplay. It’s about family, loss, friendship, sex, the roughness of first attraction, betrayal and redemption. “You don’t pay for perfection, you pay for romance.”
Froseth’s Marine is probably one of the most emotionally mature characters I have ever seen in modern cinema. She was destined to become a prima ballerina and dance in Paris Opera but she chose the path that will make her — happy — rather than fulfill a destiny. I wonder how many of us would choose that. That’s a phenomenal message to send to every young woman watching the film. She was insanely strong, she formed friendships, she showed vulnerability, she kept promises, she wasn’t jealous. She had both genuine grace and raw boldness.
Silvers’s Kate is more of an i-have-got-this-one-chance-at-life character. Usually, in life as well, the one that has nothing to go back to is more prone to betrayal. The film does a great job depicting that dark turn. She forms a friendship and just when she feels a genuine connection everyone starts pointing out that her new friend just uses her, so she tries to get the upper hand. Ultimately, she chooses becoming M, rather than being with M. Kate’s worries turn into paranoia as she starts to falsely believe that she (Kate) is the better one out of them but M will still get ahead with the help of family money. At that point she commits a bitter betrayal which changes the trajectory of the film. However, M’s response to betrayal is smth out of this world. She doesn’t get angry or vengeful. M (Marine) continues to root for Kate and just goes her separate path.
Birds of Paradise is a quintessential picture about female rivalry, friendship and attraction. You can compare it with Suspiria and Black Swan. But trust me, it has a lot of its own going on to be different enough. People are speculating whether this is a tale of friendship or romance between the female leads. I would go with friendship. However, labeling relationships is wrong imho. As weird as this may sound, two females can have sex and still be friends and nothing more. Human relationships don’t have to be structural and binary. We feel what we feel. Has it been a more queer version of the Black Swan, I believe it would have become more popular but this way, it’s more necessary. And it fills the right holes.
The movie undoubtedly has its shortcoming. In particular, the transitions from strangers to enemies to friends is not smooth at all. Everything happens too fast and takes too little time to complete. But for the 1.5h runtime, you couldn’t hope for more.
The movie also has the most exciting and suffocating sex scene I have seen since Eyes Wide Shut. You don’t actually see any sex happening but the glances, the music, the touches — you call feel it all.
Birds of Paradise is a magnificent film and definitely in my top 10 of the year.