In “Birds of Paradise,” writer-director Sarah Adina Smith (“Legion”) tells a scrumptious and entertaining tale about the go-for-broke nature of youthful companionship, spinning a cunning yarn of female enmity and camaraderie set against the backdrop of Paris’ ultra-competitive professional ballet scene. Her source is A.K. Small’s “Bright Burning Stars,” a bestselling young-adult novel Smith adapts with grown-up panache, without shortchanging the girly pleasures of the genre while upgrading them with a healthy dose of fiery twists and genuinely mature sensuality seldom associated with YA.
In the dimly-lit and sensory ecosystem that Smith creates, every out-of-place move in friendship and art comes at a high cost to sisterly dancers studying at a prestigious ballet school. Smith has fun with this setting’s prickly and double-edged dynamics,