Catherine Called Birdy (2022)
October 7, 2022 8:18 AM - Subscribe

In Lena Dunham's movie adaptation of the YA book: "A 14 year old girl in medieval England navigates through life and avoiding potential suitors her father has in mind." Perhaps taking cues from Marie Antoinette and The Favourite, Birdy explores coming of age in 13th century Stonebridge Manor, interrogates women's place in society there and then (and here and now), and rebels against its social strictures with irreverent wit and verve as she experiences heartbreak and loss -- but also glee and delight -- with friends and family along the way to a (somewhat) unconventional comedic conclusion.
posted by kliuless (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I’m so looking forward to this - Bella Ramsey is brilliant casting, as are Billie Piper and Andrew Scott and the book is an absolute favourite. I read it as an adult, and so wish I could go back to give it to child me. Watching it today.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:51 PM on October 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

Fresh off a watch - the changes are in the spirit of the book, and while the book is undoubtably better, this felt like a very well done love letter to the book, and Bella is perfect. Andrew Scott's role is the greatest difference and it works well. There is gladly, no commitment to true historical realism, much more of A Knight's Tale with color and charm.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 2:52 AM on October 8, 2022

We’re introduced to Birdy in the waning days of her privileged adolescence, living with her family, her mother Lady Aislinn (Billie Piper), her father Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott), her brother Robert (Dean-Charles Chapman) and her nurse Morwenna (Lesley Sharp) at Stonebridge Manor where the only riches this once great family seems to have left is the value of their titles. She longs to fight in the crusades like her handsome Uncle George (Joe Alwyn) or be a monk like her other brother (who is more fun than most monks, she promises) — basically anything but being a wife and mother which is all she’s allowed to do.

Some great casting!! Love Lesley Sharp. Thanks for postiing, I bet I'd have missed this one. Looking forward to watching.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:05 AM on October 8, 2022

There is gladly, no commitment to true historical realism, much more of A Knight's Tale with color and charm.

See, that was my problem. I was excited to see it because I loved the book when I was younger, but then I was all THE HISTORY KNOWER HAS LOGGED ON, and kept getting irritated. (You didn't read the Bible before the Reformation, not unless you were clergy! Monks got tonsured specifically to avoid being handsome!) But then I guess this movie was not made for me, which is fair enough.

Besides, it has its charms. Bella Ramsey was perfect, for one thing. I was really impressed by the way it handled menstruation, with a total lack of concern about what a shocked viewer might think -- this is one of Dunham's traits for sure, and she used it for good. And in general I love a slice-of-life drama about medieval times, which is something we don't have enough movies about. I just wish Dunham hadn't turned up the Spirited Young Lady trope so high. Birdy was rebellious in the book, to be sure, but not in such a modern way. To paraphrase Bret Devereaux, people in the past did generally believe in their own religion.

Anyway I got pulled away from the movie before I finished it, and I do intend to --
posted by Countess Elena at 6:40 AM on October 8, 2022 [4 favorites]

I would expect no less from Lady Lyanna Mormont.
posted by whuppy at 12:15 PM on October 8, 2022

As a person who read the book a few times as a teenager and even prepared a forensics performance based on it before I was convinced to do poetry, I really wanted to love this. The cast is great, but mostly wasted (there is a great moment toward the end where Billie Piper and Andrew Scott sell it and I loved it) and Bella Ramsey is perfect and should rule the world but this is just ... kind of a mess.

I like that it lets this reality be dirty and vulgar, because it was. There's a good physicality to all of it. But I also don't think it lets Birdy be as messy as she should be. It kind of vaguely handwaves away the whole "she has a crush on her uncle" bit without thinking about, well, she's basically the only man of her status she'd know.

The book is completely in Birdy's head -- that's the whole point! I get a movie can't do that, but I did miss seeing things from her limited perspective. I don't think Dunham really thought those things through.

(And yeah, the covers of modern songs done in a vague period style were ... tiresome. Other things have done that better but mostly, just don't do it at all.)

I did like how much Birdy was trying to figure out herself as a sexual being, as much as she could in this world. That was a big part of the book, from what I remember.

I do wish this book had been adapted by someone else, honestly. I was happy to give it a chance but it disappointed me in the way I expected it to.

(Also, really, how do you put Andrew Scott in a movie and then just waste him entirely? He did what he could but come on!)
posted by edencosmic at 6:25 PM on October 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

I utterly burst into tears at the childbirth scene.
posted by brainwane at 9:22 PM on February 24, 2023 [1 favorite]

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