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Bird of Paradise

average rating is 2 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

May 30, 2024

Film Reviews
Bird of Paradise
Directed by:
Reza Amidi
Written by:
Reza Amidi
Neda Davarpanah, Jeffery Thomas Johnson, Brian Ronan Murphy, McKensie Lane

To many people around the world Los Angeles is the pinnacle of arts and entertainment. Reaching it is like making your way to the summit of Everest for artists in industries ranging from film, music, television, and art. It’s the City of Angels for a reason, where a miraculous big break could be just around the corner, with the fame and millions that might come with it. It’s also the City of Broken Dreams, where for every star that is born, another five people have their aspirations crushed, and are forced, reluctantly into a life they never wanted. ‘Bird of Paradise’ has its protagonist caught between the two, and after a slow start, becomes a tense and unnerving thriller.


Reza Amidi’s film attempts to navigate the commentary on the shallowness of Los Angeles and the lifestyle often associated with it, alongside the mystery and thriller elements necessary to keep the story engaging. The commentary is far from tactful, and often heavy handed in it’s approach with regards to the struggles of trying to make the initial breakthrough, and then in the sinister backroom dealings that run Hollywood, which have their shadiness amped up to the max. This gives us a series of characters that are full of tropes - the dodgy talent rep, the stuck up producer, the uncaring agent - making the film seem less and less believable, which is fine for a straight thriller, but bad for a thriller that wants to depict the Hollywood system and its murkiness.


The film immediately establishes its thriller elements by opening with the abduction at gunpoint of Sasha (McKensie Lane), the wife of bad comedian, and by all accounts even worse husband, Bobby Garrison (Brian Ronan Murphy). We are then thrust into the life of aspiring actor Kat (Neda Davarpanah), and her struggles to get her career off the ground when she is suddenly presented with the opportunity of a lifetime by talent rep Dominic Dunaway (Jeffery Thomas Johnson) - a supporting role in a studio film called ‘Bird of Paradise’.


Kat wants to be an actress but is far from ready from the pressures that fame, celebrity, and working at the height of the film industry in Hollywood, and begins suffering a series of breakdowns, which only heighten her anxiety surrounding the disappearance of Sasha, who had previously been cast in her role. She fears deeply for her safety, and with her world turned upside down begins seeing things and having mysterious dreams, as she becomes more and more involved in the mystery behind Sasha’s disappearance and murder.


Reza Amidi directs the film well, particularly in terms of building suspense and tension as the film develops, and in establishing an unnerving sense around so many otherwise ordinary interactions, and a horror film with his directing would almost certainly be an exciting watch. However, the script, also by Amidi, is lacklustre, particularly in regards to dialogue which is often one-note and devoid of any subtext, which doesn’t help the actors, whose performances lack note, and never particularly endear themselves or their characters to the audience.


‘Bird of Paradise’ thrives in building suspense and tension, however as a portrait of Hollywood and Los Angeles it feels shallow, whilst its screenplay detracts from the story, ultimately making the film feel altogether very surface-level.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Indie Feature Film
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