Dunham is best known for the HBO series “Girls,” which was full of sex, nudity, and drugs. But now the 36-year-old creator is focusing on messaging targeting a younger crowd. Her new film “Catherine Called Birdy” is set in a Medieval English village in the year 1290.
The main character Lady Catherine (nicknamed Birdy) goes on a series of adventures while trying to fend off potential marital suitors foisted upon her by a greedy father seeking a big dowry to cover his debts. It’s adapted from Karen Cushman’s 1994 novel of the same name.
Bella Ramsey of “Game of Thrones” fame plays the main character. The film is rated PG-13 and is touted as a coming-of-age story. “Catherine Called Birdy” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and will be debuting on Prime Video beginning October 7.
The comedy is said to contain some slightly creepy elements, like a much older suitor who Birdy nicknames “Shaggy Beard.” Overall, however, the movie targets a younger crowd to deliver a message of female empowerment.
“Catherine Called Birdy” currently has a 70% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“A delightfully witty, irrelevant, and modern-minded while carefully dodging the self-satisfaction and smugness that those descriptors can conjure up,” one reviewer wrote.
“Leave it to ‘Girls’ creator Lena Dunham to deliver what’s been missing from the field of princess movies all these years: namely, permission for young women to be themselves, regardless of what their parents or the patriarchy might think,” the viewer from Variety agreed.
Another reviewer noted that the feminist messaging is toned down yet still present for the younger audience.
“The film goes in a different, more light-hearted direction, avoiding Dunham’s R-rated humor for a more watered down version of feminist themes,” a Screen Rant reviewer observed.
But not all critics were thrilled by the movie. One reviewer called the film “listless, plodding and self-congratulatory,” while a RogerEbert.com reviewer said it didn’t live up to the book’s “richness.”
Following the massive success of “Girls,” Dunham has been seeking another comparable hit and hasn’t found one so far. Her HBO show “Camping” wasn’t well-received and the comedy “Sharp Stick” about a girl who has an affair with her married boss also got slammed by viewers and critics alike.