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    Championing The Feminist Cause In Medieval Times



    Film:

    Catherine
    Called
    Birdy


    Cast:

    Bella
    Ramsey,
    Billie
    Piper,
    Andrew
    Scott,
    Joe
    Alwyn,
    Dean-Charles
    Chapman,
    Paul
    Kaye,
    Ralph
    Ineson,
    Archie
    Renaux


    Director:

    Lena
    Dunham

    Karen
    Cushman’s
    1994
    novel
    Catherine
    Called
    Birdy
    has
    been
    adapted
    for
    this
    Lena
    Dunham
    comedy
    about
    a
    rebellious
    14-year-old
    who
    perfects
    impertinence
    in
    times
    of
    coercive
    patriarchy.
    Set
    in
    1290,
    it’s
    a
    little
    difficult
    to
    believe
    that
    a
    young
    girl
    Catherine
    (Bella
    Ramsey)
    would
    be
    so
    sharp-witted
    as
    to
    outwit
    all
    the
    marriage
    schemes
    for
    her
    that
    her
    soon-to-be-impoverished
    father
    Lord
    Rollo
    (Andrew
    Scott)
    comes
    up
    with,
    in
    order
    to
    replenish
    his
    economic
    standing
    in
    medieval
    English
    society.

    The
    movie
    categorically
    informs
    us
    that
    “A
    young
    girl’s
    master
    merely
    changes
    from
    father
    to
    husband.” So,
    it’s
    not
    very
    difficult
    to
    predict
    the
    eventual
    outcome
    even
    if
    there’s
    been
    a
    change
    of
    heart
    and
    Birdy
    is
    given
    a
    choice.

    Even
    while
    brandishing
    feminist
    clichés,
    Birdy
    is
    shown
    as
    being
    obnoxious
    and
    loving
    it.
    This
    is,
    of
    course,
    her
    story
    and
    is
    told
    in
    the
    form
    of
    pages
    from
    her
    diary
    with
    titles
    describing
    every
    additional
    character
    that
    is
    in
    the
    periphery
    or
    about
    to
    enter
    her
    life
    story.

    Catherine Called Birdy Movie Review

    Lady
    Aislinn
    (Billie
    Piper),
    Birdy’s
    beleaguered
    mother
    who
    battled
    six
    still
    births
    believes
    that
    Birdy
    is
    not
    as
    obnoxious
    as
    she
    seems.

    Birdy
    has
    the
    sweets
    for
    her
    uncle
    George
    (Joe
    Alwyn)
    but
    he
    doesn’t
    have
    the
    means
    and
    has
    his
    sights
    set
    elsewhere,
    while
    her
    father
    Lord
    Rollo
    is
    looking
    for
    a
    “profitable
    union” for
    his
    daughter

    one
    that
    will
    get
    him
    out
    of
    the
    near
    penury
    he
    has
    brought
    upon
    himself.

    Dunham’s
    attempt
    to
    foist
    a
    post-odern
    mindset
    on
    a
    young
    girl
    from
    medieval
    times
    doesn’t
    sit
    well
    even
    if
    it
    is
    humorous
    and
    has
    a
    few
    engaging
    moments.
    The
    modern
    sensibility
    presented
    here
    goes
    against
    the
    period
    setting

    making
    it
    seem
    rather
    contrary.
    It’s
    another
    thing
    that
    what
    happened
    in
    the
    Middle
    Ages
    in
    England
    feels
    like
    what
    happens
    today
    in
    the
    small
    towns
    in
    regressive
    regimes
    across
    the
    world.

    Cushman
    had
    beautifully
    put
    forward
    the
    economic
    reality
    and
    compulsions
    that
    went
    with
    it
    as
    a
    reason
    for
    the
    customs
    that
    were
    prevalent
    in
    those
    times.
    The
    film,
    unfortunately,
    uses
    it
    only
    as
    a
    trigger
    for
    plying
    the
    feminist
    card.

    Moreover,
    the
    humour
    in
    the
    spoken
    word
    and
    the
    gags
    are
    rather
    bawdy.

    Performances
    are
    solid,
    especially
    Bella
    Ramsey’s.
    She
    certainly
    appears
    to
    be
    enjoying
    playing
    hooky
    in
    medieval
    times.

    The
    filmed
    experience
    though,
    is
    uneven.
    There
    are
    times
    when
    Catherine
    Called
    Birdy
    is
    funny
    and
    then
    there
    are
    times
    when
    you
    feel
    the
    lag.
    The
    film
    is
    certainly
    not
    as
    entertaining
    or
    illuminating
    as
    it
    could
    have
    been!

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