With the holidays right around the corner, it’s essential to have a grand list of feel-good, funny movies to binge through. Whether with your family, friends or yourself, movie marathons are the key to getting through cold winters and long holidays. It doesn’t have to be a holiday-themed movie, considering half of us can’t make it through sappy Christmas movies. The point is, it’s vital to have an extensive list, and Catherine, Called Birdy, should definitely be on yours.
Catherine, Called Birdy is a period piece with a modern tone and features a star-studded cast, including Fleabag’s Andrew Scott, Doctor Who’s Billie Piper, and even the King of our Hearts, Joe Alwyn. The young protagonist is played by Bella Ramsey, best known for playing Lyanna Mormont on HBO’s Game of Thrones.
The movie revolves around the 14-year-old Lady Catherine, who prefers to be called Birdy, and her fight against her father’s wishes to marry. She documents her time scaring away potential suitors and all her other antics in her diary. But, unfortunately, when the vilest and most available suitor comes her way, her relationship with her parents is tested to immeasurable lengths.
The movie showcases friendships, love, family, and childhood antics in a witty, light-hearted way. Not to mention, it’s a win for the girls. It fights against the patriarchy and doesn’t have a sugar-coated happy ending that ends with a male saviour. Let’s breakdown the reasons why you should add it to your watchlist:
A Win for the Ladies
First and foremost, this movie is about a fight against the patriarchy. It features strong women who focus on much more than their “ladylike” duties. Birdy, in particular, eludes every suitor her father throws at her and never caves when her father becomes upset with her. When Birdy “becomes of age,” she manages to hide the evidence for quite a while with the help of her loyal servant Morwenna.
Speaking of Morwenna, it’s fair to say she is the most loyal handmaiden ever. She could have faced the wrath of the King for lying, but she never wavered from protecting and aiding Birdy in her antics. Even Birdy’s mom, Aislinn, put’s her husband in his place when he gets upset with Birdy for scaring off suitors.
It seems like Birdy has a great group of ladies in her corner, and it’s nice to see her mother as a sensible parent who values Birdy’s innocence. Aislinn is also a marvel of strength as she loses one child to stillbirth and becomes pregnant again, increasing her possibility of dying during childbirth exponentially. Luckily for her, she manages to pull through.
Birdy’s best friend Aelis gets a reality check when she is caught kissing Birdy’s Uncle George, as Birdy despises love and relationships, but also because Uncle George is secretly her knight in shining armour. However, the spell breaks quickly. Uncle George’s lies catch up to him, and he breaks both Birdy’s and Aelis’s hearts.
Despite the girl’s rocky friendship, when Robert (Birdy’s brother) needs a higher dowry to wed Aelis, Birdy gives away the money a potential suitor gave her to save Robert and Aelis’ relationship. Even though many times throughout the movie, the women seem to have conflicting ideas and plans, they come together to help each other and check on one another.
The women have their fun and block out the noise of the patriarchy so evidently displayed at that time. They get messy, fight and wield swords, and are not the embodiment of perfection and purity. They work to get what they want, and they are brutally honest and open in the process.
Witty, Sharp, and Modern
Think Enola Holmes or Dickinson. A period piece with a modern twist in its tone and language. This movie is witty and filled with comedic one-liners that have everyone cracking up. “It’s not a big pox; it’s more like a small-pox.” I mean, why even use the word pox? The film features all sorts of depictions, language, and satirical moments unorthodox to that time.
Overall, it seems Birdy and her father have the funniest banter, as they are constantly at odds. Her father tends to dig at his daughter’s unkemptness, and Birdy at her father’s drunken, money-driven behaviour. Birdy’s narration throughout the movie paints her troubles light-heartedly, almost always making her dad look like the bad guy. Although, he is the bad guy until the very end, where he earns some minor redemption.
We see moments, like hand gestures and sticking out your tongue, that feel natural despite the era. Even some of the dresses and robes feel modern. And Birdy. Birdy’s every action feels like she belongs in this day and age. From keeping pigeons as pets to imitating a Jesus statue to get into the monastery, she is just the embodiment of rebellion.
She also listens to her best friend, Perkins, way too much. Let’s say Perkins… explanations are an anatomy professor’s worst nightmare. It even feels modern that these young kids are talking about such crude things openly. On the other hand, it’s refreshing to see these modern values delivered in such a humourous way, especially in such a notably conservative time.
So if anything, add it to your watchlist because it tackles everyday life and some rather extreme situations humorously and openly. Also, Andrew Scott is always hilarious, no matter what character he plays.
While their family may be SEVERELY dysfunctional, they still undoubtedly care for each other. Despite being away at a Monastery, Birdy’s brother is patient, kind and ever-loving towards her when she comes seeking advice. He encourages her to remain true to herself. Despite being more like her father, her other brother also sheds some tears at the prospect of Birdy leaving. However, he also cares for their father’s well-being and is eventually able to marry Aelis because of Birdy.
Despite Birdy hating every moment of the suitor’s search, she eventually does agree to preserve the kingdom and lighten the load for her father. He, in turn, realizes he’s not ready to give her up and finds a way to redeem himself. Fortunately, her mother fights for Birdy as much as Morwenna does, and it seems like no one is ready for Birdy to leave. No matter how much her antics cause disruption, it’s a disruption that they can’t live without.
Let’s not forget that Birdy fights for everyone. She worries about her mother’s health and her brother’s relationship. She worries about leaving her friend Perkins behind because she knows the dangers of loneliness. Birdy is unselfish and loyal to those around her. Even though it’s a dysfunctional family, in the end, it’s a feel-good, honest story of a family and not some sugar-coated dream.