Catherine Called Birdy Is Delightful

Photo: Alex Bailey / Prime Video

Katherine (Bella Ramsey) is a well-to-do young white woman who struggles against the boundaries of a patriarchal society, while unaware of how much better she has than many others around her. In other words, despite living in 1290 England instead of 2010’s Brooklyn, she’s Lena Dunham’s heroine. miracle of Katherine is called BirdieWhich is going from the Toronto International Film Festival premiere to Prime Video on October 7th, is about how well Dunham’s sensibility blends in with the light touches of Karen Cushman’s beloved children’s novel about a teenager in middle age. Katherine is called Birdie This is the second film directed by Dunham this year, and while it’s a more mainstream effort than strange but undeniably interesting sharp stick, it doesn’t lower his voice. Instead, the self-deprecating, self-consuming filmmaker breaks free from the act of adaptation, such that silencing his distinctive creative impulses gives him the rein to create a film that is tender and more comprehensive. is a crowd-pleaser, while still being its own.

Catherine is the daughter of Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott) and Lady Aislin (Billy Piper), whose domains include the manor and village of Stonebridge. As the youngest child of a family that includes two sons—Edward (Archie Renoux), whom Catherine considers “more fun than most monks” and “terrible” Robert (Dean-Charles Chapman)—she decided to run. Enjoys a blissful childhood in the wild with his friend Perkin (Michael Woolfitt), who leads the goats, and with his best friend Alice (Isis Hensworth), the daughter of a neighboring noble. Stonebridge is shown to be as bright and charming as it is gross, with Katherine’s nurse denying her allegation of getting dirty after taking a bath just a fortnight earlier. But as Catherine is now 14 years old, which is the 13th century equivalent to 25 in today’s Greenpoint, and as adult responsibilities begin to encroach on her day, her father decides it’s time to solve her financial problems. The only way is to marry her. The only daughter of a rich man. Katherine powerfully resists, first by hiding evidence that she’s gotten her period in the floorboards of the outhouse, then by smothering every lover with calculatedly off-putting behavior, a plan that ends up backfiring.

Ramsey, a surprisingly fiery presence who bulldozes her way to share the screen with everyone else, is best known for playing the formidable Liana Mormont game of Thrones, there are ways in which Katherine is called Birdie It seems intended to serve as a benign response to that franchise, or at least complicate the conversation around it. For all the antics around the gruesome birth order in dragon houseMisogynistic brutality has always seemed like one of the essential elements of the fictional universe, part of the insistence that its crypto-European historical traps be accompanied by some period-appropriate dehumanization. Katherine is called Birdie Doesn’t skimp on those details either, but it refuses to delve easily into their brutality. Behind the manor is a string of small graves, marking Aislin’s half-dozen stillbirths, and yet she becomes pregnant again, despite being told it could cost her life. Still, the film refuses to make Rollo as reckless and self-involved as he may have been, in that judgment of how much the villains love the relationship between Catherine’s parents, and both of them, at the time. How much I love her products, believe that this is just part of her duty as a wife.

Catherine is also a product of her time, and while her whirlwind emotions and mile-a-minute descriptions and stubborn dreams of escape make her feel more modern, her world and her future are actually very constrained. Katherine is called Birdie Not devoted to a sense of historical allegiance—Scott walks around the manor in what looks like a medieval answer to a bathrobe and sweatpants—but it’s also not one of those movies as hopeless. incentive, which treats its period setting as nothing more than a costume party. Instead, it strives for a version of rebellion that doesn’t feel airdropped from the 21st century, with Catherine slowly coming to terms with the options that are actually available to her, while acknowledging that she How little sympathy have you shown to others in your life? Her casual fights—”You’re so lucky to have your father’s death,” she tells Perkin, who replies that she’s actually still deeply upset by that loss—provide some funny moments in this spirited film. The ending, when it arrives, splits off from Cushman, and turns into something like wish fulfillment, though it’s hard to blame Dunham, who also wrote the screenplay for it. Katherine has such a sweet creation that it’s hard not to take anything different from her, even if she herself can’t tell you what it’s supposed to be.

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