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CATHERINE CALLED BIRDY: 3 ½ STARS. “balances the humor with empowerment.”

In “Catherine Called Birdy” director Lena Dunham leaves her best-known locale, the gritty streets of “Girls” era Brooklyn, New York, behind in favor of medieval England. Thematically, however, she is walking the same path.

Based on the 1994 novel of the same name by Karen Cushman, the movie follows 14-year-old Lady Catherine (Bella Ramsey), the unruly daughter of a cash-strapped nobleman, as she works to foil her father’s attempts to marry her off to a rich suitor.

Set in a thirteenth century English village that Catherine’s father Lord Rollo of Stonebridge (Andrew Scott) has allowed to sink deeply in debt as he lives the high life, “Catherine Called Birdy” sees the strapped for cash Rollo put his daughter up for auction to the highest bidder. “You’re my daughter,” he says. “If I say that you shall be married, than married you shall be.”

Trouble is, Catherine, who has witnessed six of her mother’s troubled pregnancies, wants nothing to do with marriage and childrearing. She is more interested in the things that any thirteenth century teen might enjoy.

“My truest passions are avoiding my chores,” she says. “Critiquing my father’s horrible swordplay. Disrupting cottage raisings. Causing mischief in the village. And listening through doors I should not listen through.”

She uses her wiles to avoid the altar, finding cunning ways to humiliate her suitors. One by one she scares them off, until Shaggy Beard (Paul Kaye), a wealthy older man who enjoys her manipulations, comes along. “Would I choose to die rather than be forced to marry?” she says. “I do not think either option appealing, or fair.”

Ripe with bawdy humor filtered through Dunham’s feminist sieve, “Catherine Called Birdy” is a period coming-of-age story that, despite the corsets on display, has a modern sensibility. Much of that is due to Dunham’s script, which balances the humor with empowerment, but the real sell job here comes from Ramsey.

In a performance that reveals strength and vulnerability alongside comedic and dramatic chops, the former “Game of Thrones” star not only looks like she just stepped out of a medieval Walter of Durham painting, but she also embodies Catherine’s rowdy spirit.

“Catherine Called Birdy” sags in the middle, but what it lacks in pacing, it makes up for in pathos and charm.

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