‘Birds of Paradise’ sees two ballet dancers vying for the coveted contract with the Paris Opera Ballet. Who won the grand prize?
Kate and Marine are two students from the prestigious Parisian ballet academy. They are competing to win the coveted contract at the Paris Opera Ballet.
The two dancers initially made a pact to share the prize, but as dire circumstances arise, their friendship gets tested. In the end, there can only be one winner.
Who wins the coveted prize? Here is everything that happened in 'Birds of Paradise.'
Kate (Diana Silvers) is a new student at La Volière ballet academy in Paris. She hails from a modest background. Kate only managed to enter the prestigious school through a scholarship after winning every dance competition in America.
Meanwhile, Marine (Kristine Frøseth) is the daughter of the American ambassador to France. She is also studying at the same school as Kate. Marine has an overbearing mother who pressures her to excel in the class to win a contract with the elite Paris Opera Ballet.
Kate and Marine immediately get into a catfight after Marine mentions Ollie, a dancer who recently committed suicide. She did not know that Ollie was Marine's twin brother.
Despite their initial violent encounter, the two get forced to reconcile their differences and be roommates. Kate later becomes Marine's friend. The two promised to help each other and not accept the prize unless they both get it. Of course, this seems impossible because it has never happened in the school's history.
Later in the film, we know that Marine's parents funded Kate's scholarship in honor of their late son Ollie. We also found out that Ollie killed himself after their mother caught them together in a room and thought they were having sex.
Marine's parents were no longer as wealthy as we initially thought. They withdrew Kate's scholarship and sold their house to fund Marine's expensive training at the school.
Kate was devastated, and while in the heat of the moment, she tells everyone at the academy that Marine had sex with her twin brother, resulting in his suicide.
On the final day of the competition, Kate gets paired with the best male dancer in the class, Filipe. Marine was supposed to partner with Filipe. However, to everyone's surprise, she decides to perform alone.
Kate and Filipe's performance was impressive. She gets a standing ovation from the crowd. Meanwhile, Marine performed a new and provocative routine, which left the audience flabbergasted.
The competition is tough. While waiting for the winner to get announced, Marine declares that she does not want the prize. Kate, therefore, gets awarded the contract. The film then jumps to three years after the competition. Kate is living a glamorous life as a famous ballet dancer. After one of her performances, Marine approaches her. Marine is now choreographing dances at “Jungle,” the underground club they visited when they were still ballet students.
Kate breaks down and asks Marine for forgiveness. The film ends with Marine managing a dance performance at the "Jungle." The subject of the dance routine is the story Kate told her when they first met.
Despite what they have been through, their friendship remained embedded in each other's lives.
Marine's decision to quit is the best resolution to the underlining conflict of the film. It is impossible to get two winners. Marine has spent most of her life in the ballet academy. She and her brother have studied there since they were nine years old.
On the other hand, Kate needs the scholarship to secure a better future. Although Kate goes through the contract, she does not have closure. She only got the prize because Marine backed out. The judges also refused to tell her who won the competition. Hence, she will never feel like a true winner.
When we see her again three years later, it is also evident that Kate is not genuinely happy.
Meanwhile, Marine may have lost the prestige, but she is now living her best life, finally free from the clutches of people who try to control her life.
Marine's dance performance is a bold statement about what is going on with her life. It is unlike anything you have ever seen in a regular ballet performance. Marine repeatedly throws herself onto the hard ground. It was painful to watch, and even the audience winced every time she fell hard.
On the final part of the presentation, she cut an imaginary thread holding her up. That means that Marine is presenting herself as a puppet. Like a puppet, she has been following what others tell her to do all her life. Cutting the imaginary string symbolizes that she is finally breaking herself free and that she is now ready to live life according to her terms.
When Marine and Ollie are still teenagers, their mother caught them in a room in a scandalous situation. Their mother thought that they were having sex. Marine desperately tried to convince her that he and Marine were only dancing. However, her mother continues to look at her with disgust.
Filled with shame, Ollie results in using drugs and eventually kills himself.
Marine and Ollie were very close to each other. They shared a special bond that most twins have. They also promised to become the best ballet dancers together.
While confiding to Kate, Marine reveals that she received a call from Ollie that same day he took his life. Marine did not pick up. In the voice mail, she heard Ollie talk about how she had forgotten about their promise.
For years, Marine has carried the burden of Ollie's death in her heart. Deep inside, she blames herself for not being there when he needed her the most.
When Marine finally decided to step down from the competition and let go of her traditional ballet life, she freed herself from the shackles of the pain of her brother's death and the pressure of her overbearing parents.
'Birds of Paradise' is directed by Sarah Adina Smith. It's available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.