Catherine Called Birdy is a raucous and ribald medieval comedy written and directed by Lena Dunham based on the book by Karen Cushman. Here is a high energy coming-of-age story that charts the trials, tribulations, and wild experiences of Catherine who prefers to be called Birdy (Bella Ramsey). This 14 year old lives in Lincolnshire with her father Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott). The family has known better days and her father determines that to save their manor, he will have to marry Birdy off to someone of wealth – no matter how old or ugly or unsuitable the suitor may be.
Birdy prefers to hang out with her Uncle George (Joe Alwyn), but she can’t marry him. Her mother Lady Aislinn (Billie Piper), meanwhile, is trying to help Birdy come to terms with her first period.
Catherine cherishes her adolescent freedom and following the advice of her older brother (Archie Renaux), a monk, she begins writing a journal about her success in dashing her father’s plans for her. She calls upon her friends (Michael Woolfitt and Isis Haismorth) to scare various suitors away including one she calls “Shaggy Beard.”
Dunham’s decision to use voice-overs draws us closer to the emotional vibrancy of Birdy’s determination and aspirations. This entertaining story may be set centuries ago, but Birdy’s path is one many young women today will identify with. In an interview in Teen Vogue, the director zeros in on this teenager’s quest for independence.
“Her recklessness and joy and passion doesn’t fit in with the societal role she’s been assigned. (The film) is about her fighting these customs with justified rage and humor and open-mindedness. She’s basically trying to forge her own path in a world stacked against her in that regard.”