Overview: Lena Dunham high-fives ‘Clueless’ with straightforward, breezy ‘Catherine Referred to as Birdy’

Lena Dunham’s heat, energetic adaptation of Karen Cushman’s 1994 historic novel, “Catherine, Referred to as Birdy,” opens with a needle drop that references one other basic teen film. Misty Miller’s cowl of the ’90s Supergrass tune “Alright” performs as a younger Woman Catherine (known as Birdy), performed by Bella Ramsey of “Recreation of Thrones,” finds herself within the midst of a mud battle throughout a raucous cottage-raising in her medieval English village.

The music alternative (one of some nice ’90s covers that Miller performs all through the movie), is a high-five to Amy Heckerling’s 1995 film, “Clueless,” and it inextricably hyperlinks the 2 movies collectively. One is an adaptation of a novel written within the ’90s, set in medieval instances, the opposite relies on a Regency-era Jane Austen novel and set within the ’90s, however each movies are a couple of virgin who can’t drive. The reference is a beautiful means of reminding us, as “Catherine Referred to as Birdy” steadily does, that the problems plaguing girlhood are sometimes the identical, regardless of the period.

Dunham has known as adapting the e book a longtime ardour undertaking, and the care and love she has for the story and the characters — in each her writing and path — is palpable. Like “Clueless,” it’s a movie that feels easy, energetic and dynamic; it’s densely wordy, witty and smart, and it calls for to be rewatched as many instances as potential.

There’s a fluid naturalism and vitality to the movie that begins on the web page and flows by means of the motion of the digital camera and the physicality of the actors. Dunham has nailed the language and tone of this piece. The writing is sharp, clear, with a definite voice, however it’s by no means overly express; it’s trendy and relatable, but completely medieval. Anachronistic songs may soundtrack these occasions, however the trials, tribulations and artistic curses that Birdy goals up are all feudal England.

Birdy is navigating that tough second when she’s not a woman, not but a girl. She stuffs her menstrual rags within the ground of the outhouse to cover them, as a result of getting her interval is a high-stakes affair. It means her father, the fey and humorous Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott) can marry her off to the best bidder to avoid wasting the manor’s funds. Birdy rebels towards the spouse life in defiance but in addition in worry. Her mom, Woman Aislinn (Billie Piper), struggles to supply wholesome infants.

“Catherine Referred to as Birdy” is a chronicle of this distinct transitional time, as advised by Birdy herself in a journal written for her brother Edward (Archie Renaux), a monk. As suitors come to name, Birdy makes an attempt to thwart the wedding plot as finest she will be able to with pranks and capers, counting on her finest associates, Perkin (Michael Woolfitt) and Aelis (Isis Hainsworth), whereas feuding together with her brother Robert (Dean-Charles Chapman) and infrequently pining after her hunky Uncle George (Joe Alwyn).

However whereas the plot grapples with the aim and performance of marriage, the story of “Catherine Referred to as Birdy” is considered one of a deeply felt familial love and bond, expressed earnestly, and with good humor, by Ramsey, Piper, Chapman, Renaux and particularly Scott, who manages to make Rollo endearing in his entreaties to marry off his daughter. The casting is likely one of the distinctive elements of this movie: Lesley Sharp and Sophie Okonedo ship pleasant performances as two of the mentors who assist to form and information Birdy outdoors of her household, whereas Paul Kaye from “Recreation of Thrones” makes for a wonderfully lascivious antagonist.

“Catherine Referred to as Birdy” is Dunham’s finest writing and directing work but; it’s a straightforward, breezy, emotional good time, and an instantaneous teen basic, similar to its predecessor, “Clueless.” Together with her two glorious 2022 movies, together with “Sharp Stick,” it’s clear that, even in a post-“Ladies” world, Dunham won’t ever be completed inspecting the interior lives of ladies, in all their playful, pragmatic and poignant complexities.

Katie Walsh is a Tribune Information Service movie critic.

‘Catherine Referred to as Birdy’

Rated: PG-13, for some suggestive materials and thematic components

Operating time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Taking part in: Alamo Drafthouse, downtown Los Angeles; Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood; Century Huntington Seaside; streaming Oct. 7 on Prime Video

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