‘Catherine Called Birdy’ is a sprightly critique of the patriarchy

In “Catherine Called Birdy,” Lena Dunham’s sprightly adaptation of Karen Cushman’s Newbery Medal-winning novel, Bella Ramsey plays the title character, an irrepressible

14-year-old girl living in medieval England and chafing against the era’s unenlightened habits and patriarchal strictures. The patriarch in question is Lord Rollo, a

dissolute aristocrat whose love of drink and impulsive acquisitiveness have led to hard times at Stonebridge Manor, the family pile. He sets out to marry off young Lady Catherine

— nicknamed Birdy, after her favorite pets — unaware that his best-laid plans will be foiled at every turn by his headstrong, ungovernable daughter. Similar to recent

adaptations of “Persuasion” and “Emma,” Dunham imbues “Catherine Called Birdy” with lots of clever anachronisms, including a pop-tastic soundtrack, dominated by Misty Miller

performing covers of songs like Supergrass’s “Alright” and Alicia Keys. She has assembled a nimble cast of players who are all in on the joke, including Andrew Scott as the

perpetually tipsy but somehow un-hateable Lord Rollo; Billie Piper as his perpetually pregnant wife; Lesley Sharp as Birdy’s patient nursemaid Morwenna; and Joe Alwyn as the

adored Uncle George, who has just returned from the Crusades, an epic battle Birdy longs to join.