Rental Pick: Birds of Paradise (2021) – a stylish coming-of-age ballet drama


Two girls at an elite Parisian ballet academy have their bond and bodies tested as they compete for a contract to join the company of the Opéra national de Paris.

Ballet has always been a juicy subject matter for movies given its mystique and elegance, as well as the relentless competition to be the best. The movie centers on Kate (Diana Silvers – who reminds me a bit of young Anne Hathaway), an ambitious, talented, tomboyish ballerina who attends a prestigious Parisian ballet school on a scholarship. Going to such a school under normal circumstances would be tough enough, but Kate has to endure feeling alienated in a foreign country where she doesn’t even speak the language.


Written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith, she’s done an impressive job in world-building that feels believable, so she either has a personal insight into the world of ballet or she has done her research well. The first half of the film draws me into Kate’s journey navigating the cutthroat, world-renowned institution and its students, especially the stunning and mysterious Marine (Kristine Froseth) who comes from a wealthy family. Despite their stark economic differences and a testy start, they end up forming a close bond that’s emotionally and sexually charged.


Now, given both are angst-filled teens living away from their parents, it’s in the rebellious nature that they experiment with taboo things. There are obvious similarities, in addition to its title, to Black Swan, though the psychological thriller aspect isn’t nearly as intense. I’d say this one is more of a coming-of-age story as both characters are still figuring themselves out.

The two young leads, especially Silvers, did an incredible job in their dance sequences, while Jacqueline Bisset is perfectly icy as the academy’s director. Smith displays her visual flair and a taste for theatrics in the dreamy, rather bizarre dance sequences. The overall production quality and set pieces are stylish and vivid, which helps immerse me in the world of competitive ballet.


The eerie surrealism is quite fun to watch but there are a few things that preclude this from being a remarkable film. The overall pacing is uneven with a sluggish second act. The plots are sadly ridden with clichés that, like Darren Aronofsky’s award-winning film, perpetuate the notion that ballet is creepy and filled with terror. That said, the film showcases Smith’s directing chops, so I’m curious to check out her other work.


You can stream Birds of Paradise on Amazon Prime

Have you seen this movie? I’d love to hear what you think!

7 thoughts on “Rental Pick: Birds of Paradise (2021) – a stylish coming-of-age ballet drama

  1. I think I have heard about this but never got the chance to check it out. I will one of these days but right now. I need to rest as I’ve been dealing with this awful cough that has been going on for a month since I got the flu as it’s bronchitis again.

  2. I saw a trailer of this movie a while back, the only reason I was a bit interest is because of Diana Silvers. I noticed her when I started watching Space Force, a hilarious show on Netflix. And yes, she does remind me of Anne Hathaway too, hopefully she’ll have a good career like Anne.

    1. Oh I still need to see Space Force! Wow so Silvers is clearly a versatile actress as this film is far from comedic. She looks a lot like Hathaway and yes I think she has the looks and talents to be as successful.

  3. Pingback: Birds of Paradise (2021) – a classy coming-of-age ballet drama – FLIXCHATTER FILM BLOG – Ykine

  4. Pingback: Birds of Paradise (2021) – a stylish coming-of-age ballet drama – FLIXCHATTER FILM BLOG – Motube

  5. Pingback: Alliance Lately: Issue No. 72 – The Minnesota Film Critics Alliance

Join the conversation by leaving a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s