Movie Review: Catherine Called Birdy * Tackles Gender Norms In The Middle Ages With Tact And Humor, Making It A Great Introduction To Medieval Comedy
A 14 year old girl in medieval England navigates through life and avoiding potential suitors her father has in mind.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Lena Dunham’s newest film Catherine Called Birdy tackles gender norms in the Middle Ages with tact and humor…” Heather S. adds, “Catherine Called Birdy is absolutely hilarious! The film is light hearted and funny, with a star-studded cast.”Tiana S. contributes, “Set in England’s medieval era, this movie takes you through a year in the life of teenager who has to use her wits to get out of tough and almost impossible situations.” Selene W. wraps it up with, “Boredom is for the dull-witted”– and the heroine in Catherine Called Birdy is anything but dull-witted! Catherine Called Birdy is relatable to modern audiences and kept me guessing while entertained.” See their full reviews below.
Catherine Called Birdy By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Lena Dunham’s newest film Catherine Called Birdy tackles gender norms in the Middle Ages with tact and humor, making it a great introduction to medieval comedy for those of appropriate age to handle the gore and thematic elements.
Catherine Called Birdy, as you might expect, follows the 14-year-old Lady Catherine (Bella Ramsey), whose nickname is Birdy. She’s a tomboy to the nth degree, playing with her best friend, a goatherd, rolling in mud and dirt and scorning all that the Middle Ages would deem “ladylike” comportment. Her father, Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott), is deeply financially destitute and utterly greedy, so he aims to use his daughter as his path out of financial ruin by marrying her off to a wealthy man for money and land. What ensues is comedy gold, but also empowering, as Lady Catherine fights back against the repressive expectations for women of the time.
Lena Dunham’s direction and Bella Ramsey’s performance really add to this film. Dunham crafts every scene to be perfectly shot and cut, and the young Ramsey shows her talent as Lady Catherine, standing up to injustice and sexism with superb dialogue delivery and emoting throughout the film. I also love how the writers have crafted Lord Rollo’s role; besides fueling the main conflict of Catherine Called Birdy, his character flaws make him perhaps the most complex character of the whole film. Andrew Scott works magic as Lord Rollo, especially in the final scenes of the film where the message is hammered in.
Catherine Called Birdy promotes standing up to rules you feel are unjust. There are some violent (but not graphic) and disturbing scenes, including a difficult childbirth.
I give Catherine Called Birdy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18. Catherine Called Birdy releases globally on Prime Video October 7, 2022.
Catherine Called Birdy By Heather S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Catherine Called Birdy is absolutely hilarious! The film is light hearted and funny, with a star-studded cast. There is not a dull moment in this medieval comedy.
Catherine Called Birdy follows Catherine (Bella Ramsey), a 14-year-old Lady in medieval England. Catherine navigates life, dodges her father’s suitors, and tries to find her place in the world as a woman. The film is based on the book of the same name.
This film is as hilarious as it is sweet. Catherine and her family are witty and messy. Catherine is a strong young girl, ready to make the best out of her situation. She loves her family and her friends, which makes audiences love her. Meanwhile, her father, Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott), is the funniest man in England. He’s funny and crude, his comedic timing is on point. Each character has their own kind of humor, which adds to their dynamic.
The best scenes are when the entire family is together and each one tries to lie through their teeth and diffuse the problems that Catherine has created. The costumes and wardrobe are another factor that makes this film a success. Each dress and accessory is elaborate and glamorous, effortlessly beautiful. Every Lord and Lady, members of nobility, has robes and layered dresses, showing their status as the elite rich. The wedding outfits are exquisite. The soundtrack is extremely creative. Modern songs are included with genres ranging from pop to rock. These tunes aren’t overused and fit perfectly into the story and add more emotion.
The moral of the film is to make the best of every situation. Catherine watches the man she loves marry another woman; she fights with her best friend; her mother has several stillbirths – yet she still has a positive outlook on life. She’s determined to have ownership on her life and never conform to the roles laid out for her.
I give Catherine Called Birdy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. Catherine Called Birdy releases globally on Prime Video October 7, 2022.
Catherine Called Birdy By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
When you’re just 13 years old and forced to grow up, life can be hard, but you have to make it through. Set in England’s medieval era, this movie takes you through a year in the life of teenager who has to use her wits to get out of tough and almost impossible situations.
Catherine Called Birdy follows Catherine, aka Birdy (Bella Ramsey), who is being forced to marry a rich man, because her family doesn’t have money. Birdy doesn’t want to leave her home, get married or have to act like a lady. While dealing with puberty, betrayal and wanting to live the way she wants, Birdy has to find a way to change her father’s mind before it’s too late.
The main character is, of course, Birdy. I love the relationship Birdy has with her family, as well as her community. She’s young and just wants to have fun, not fall in love, be formal, or have children yet. I love how she uses her voice throughout the film. My favorite part of the film is seeing the relationship Birdy has with her town and, even when she is playing in mud fights, or casually having fun with her friends. This film is based on the novel of the same name by Karen Cushman. It’s a great adaptation of the novel and the costumes and setting really fit the era in which it is set. The storytelling method used for this film is creative, in that they feel like journal entries. While I agree it isn’t the best for young viewers, it still has a good message behind it and will offer more mature audiences certain life lessons.
This film really drives home how you have to fight for what you want in life, and that it’s okay for children to take their time growing up. Catherine just wants to have fun and live, not worry about making decisions that adults have to make, such as getting married and having children. She stands up for herself and doesn’t give up, until her voice is heard. Parents need to be aware that it covers topics such as sexuality and abuse, plus has scenes addressing puberty, other adult behaviors and drinking.
I give Catherine Called Birdy 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Catherine Called Birdy releases globally on Prime Video October 7, 2022.
Catherine Called Birdy By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
“Boredom is for the dull-witted”– and the heroine in Catherine Called Birdy is anything but dull-witted! This timeless coming-of-age story which takes place in 13th Century England is witty and engaging. Catherine Called Birdy is relatable to modern audiences and kept me guessing while entertained.
Lady Catherine (Bella Ramsey), known around the manor as Birdy, is a clever and stubborn 14-year-old girl who valiantly fights against medieval traditions for her independence. Her father, Lord Rollo of Stonebridge (Andrew Scott) seeks to find a foolish young man who will trade his fortune for a title by marrying off his only daughter. Fortunately, Birdy is not foolish and her rebellion proves to be entertaining as we see that her truest passion lies in avoiding chores, causing mischief at home and in her village, as well as routing her various suitors on her own personal crusade.
The incredibly clever screenplay, written by Lena Denham, is based on the book of the same name by Karen Cushman. Bella Ramsey, as Birdy, has wonderful comedic timing and utilizes the witty dialogue to capture the audience, while confusing her various suitors. I enjoyed watching Birdy’s cleverness and frustration in overcoming social norms and assumptions from that time. All teenagers can relate to parent’s expectations and interference while struggling against them. Lena Denham also directs the film and you can tell that it is certainly a labor of love. The scenes in the countryside and manor are quite beautiful and the cinematography, under the guidance of Laurie Rose, truly adds to the story and film. The set decorator Stella Fox, along with costume designer Julian Day, complete the audience’s immersion into the manor and village of Stonebridge.
The message of this film is that you should not be burdened by the expectations of others – even if they come from those you love or feel an obligation to. Under pressure, Birdy doesn’t fly the coop, but instead she stays and fights for her future and her independence.
I rate Catherine Called Birdy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film opens in select theaters September 23, 2022 and on Prime Video October 7, 2022. Don’t miss this relatable and enchanting tale.