Catherine Called Birdy review: Feminist, frenetic & fun

Catherine Called Birdy follows the titular teenage girl’s clever and relentless defiance of her father while he tries to set her up with a rich suitor.

Story

Catherine, also called Little Bird or Birdy is a teenage girl of 14 living in a manor with his father Lord Rollo, mother Lady Aislinn, brother Robert, and nursemaid Morwenna.

Her eldest brother Edward is a Monk and usually keeps in touch with letters. Birdy also has a best friend in Lady Aelis who lives some distance away.

However, her friends back home are Perkin the goat boy and Meh the dairymaid. Life is fun and breezy until Lord Rollo learns he’s accumulated quite a debt.

To retain his financial strength he must marry Catherine off to a rich suitor and nab a handsome dowry. But a Catherine called Birdy is too much of a free agent to believe in such binding institutions.

Suitors come and without fail, go, thanks to Birdy’s sabotages. However, she eventually matches her match — by traits, not by character — in Lord Murgaw of Lithgow, the seventh richest man in Yorkshire and probably the filthiest as well.

However, to Birdy, Murgaw is a brute and a repulsive sight. She appropriately names him “Shaggy Beard”.

Despite all her efforts to thwart this marriage from happening, Birdy has to be wedded to the wealthy brute. She eventually accepts her fate and tries to make peace with it.

Not her father, though, not anymore. He can’t beat the sight of his dear daughter leaving with such an unseemly man.

At the end of Catherine Called Birdy, Lord Rollo engages in a duel with Murgaw, eventually defeating him despite his shabby sword skills.

Catherine is free again, even if her freedom is impermanent. Suitors will keep coming to ask her hand in marriage and Birdy will continue to contend with all who seek to clip her wings.

Performances

Catherine Called Birdy makes the greatest use of its ensemble of talented actors. Andrew Scott brings his usual panache and unique flair to the role, playing Lord Rollo with great spunk and craft.

The supporting cast also does a marvellous job in their respective roles, with Joe Alwyn and Isis Hainsworth delivering notable performances.

However, the strongest part of Catherine Called Birdy is the main face of the flick — Bella Ramsey. She is quite a revelation in the role and a constant ball of the spark that doesn’t diminish in its buzz for a moment.

Playing the lead with great skill, Ramsey makes the role herself and makes it look like it was her birthright. In scenes of joy and in scenes of sorrow, Ramsey keeps the helm tightly in her hands, nailing the mannerisms and other facets like diction as well.

Positives

Catherine Called Birdy is a labour of love and it’s evident that Lena Dunham has given the subject matter a deeply personal treatment.

Despite its modern feminist themes and treatment, the film does a great job of creating an authentic era-appropriate environment.

Negatives

Modern pop rarely makes for a good needle drop. Unfortunately, Catherine Called Birdy is one such example that doesn’t benefit from the frequent pop needle drops at all.

The screen time devoted to Rollo’s change of heart could have been increased as it seems a bit too sudden of a turnaround for the character.

Verdict

Catherine Called Birdy is a delectable little piece of a feminist feature that makes most of the cast’s immense talent and the rich content of its source material.

The costumes are great and so are the set pieces, with the acting from its lead stars being the clear standouts and features that make it a worthwhile watch time.

Catherine Called Birdy
Catherine Called Birdy review: Feminist, frenetic & fun 1

Director: Lena Dunham

Date Created: 2022-10-07 05:30

Editor's Rating:
3.5

Also Read: Catherine Called Birdy ending explained: Does Birdy get married?