Lena Dunham channels Monty Python on this cheeky medieval romp

The 12 months is 1290 in Lincolnshire and 14-year-old Birdy, aka Girl Catherine (Recreation of Thrones’s Bella Ramsey), a plucky tomboy with no real interest in marriage, is getting into adolescence, full with embarrassingly massive interval rags and a father obsessive about marrying her off.

Lena Denham’s third directorial characteristic is an adaptation of the award-winning 1994 younger grownup (YA) novel by Karen Cushman and it takes a little bit of getting used to.

Positive, we’re all well-versed in anachronistic historic dramas now (thanks, Bridgerton) and Catherine Known as Birdy deploys most of the touchstones we’re now conversant in as an instance how not so completely different the fallen medieval the Aristocracy is from us – some girlboss feminism (“Girls are individuals too!”), a colour-blind forged and, in fact, a soundscape drenched in pop music, from Supergrass covers to Alicia Keys.

However Catherine Known as Birdy additionally has an off-kilter, purposefully contrived tone that verges someplace between Monty Python and Wes Anderson with out the mellow color palette. It has a kind of wink-wink impact that may be distancing, till you agree in, and it took a couple of third of the movie for me to take action.

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As soon as you might be within the swing of issues, although, that is an pleasant romp, with a terrific script and almost as many moments of tear-jerking despair as excessive comedy.

Birdy’s father Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott, on terrific kind), is an effete nobleman with a penchant for deep-V shirts and bohemian dressing robes. A person of his time regardless of sartorial selections, he’s in dire straits over the right way to maintain the crumbling manor home and turns into intent on marrying off Birdy to pay for its maintenance, viciously beating her palms when she disobeys him.

Birdy, who a lot prefers to wallow in mud together with her peasant mates, or giggle inelegantly about unhealthy recorder taking part in, finds imaginative methods to rebuff the ridiculous suitors who arrive, from advising Russell Model’s horseback rider that “Girl Catherine” is hideously ugly, to crouching on the excessive desk at dinner and snorting like a pig.

A suitor is chosen, nevertheless – the repugnant “Shaggy Beard” – and this makes the purpose higher than all of the avant-garde feminist mantras: feudal England merely isn’t an excellent time to be a lady.

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Ramsey reveals off her comedy chops because the cussed Birdy, however actually that is an ensemble piece. Scott veers brilliantly between flustered, draconian and affectionate; Billie Piper is as likeable as ever as his loving however real looking spouse, choosing herself up after yet one more stillbirth; and Joe Alwyn is completely dreamy because the good-looking Uncle George, on whom Birdy ill-advisedly pins her hopes of rescue, and who marries an older widow, performed by a luminous Sophie Okonedo.

Birdy additionally has a few very humorous brothers: imply Robert (Dean-Charles Chapman) and affable monk Edward (Archie Renaux), whose recommendation that Birdy write a diary varieties the idea of her cheeky, insightful voiceovers.

If Dunham goes somewhat too arduous often on the “you go lady” mantras, she additionally instinctively is aware of the right way to let a joke land and provides house to second of poignancy. Amid the gags about setting the privy on hearth, there’s additionally the very actual risk that Birdy must marry a disgusting and brutal outdated man to avoid wasting her household’s fortunes, and that isn’t humorous in any respect. The stakes right here really feel increased and much much less horny than one thing like Bridgerton, and it’s extra honest consequently, regardless of all of the wisecracks.

In cinemas now and on Prime Video from 7 October

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