Even so, being a girl in Birdy’s world is rotten business. At one point, she recites a litany of things girls can’t do: “Go on a crusade, cut their hair, be horse trainers, laugh really hard, marry whoever they want…go to hangings.” She dreams of dressing up as a knight and escaping. Instead, she escapes into the diary her brother (a monk) gives her, urging her to read and write. “Knowing your own story will be your salvation,” he promises.
Dunham, who serves as an executive producer on the film in addition to her directing and writing credits, says she added this line, which wasn’t in the book: “I was like, let the monk say no no a religious creed, but the thing that is my credo in life.” In his 2010 film tiny furniture, then in Girls, Dunham has played roles partly based on herself. “I love writing characters, especially female characters, who are annoying and say the wrong thing, who don’t know how to behave in a social space,” she says. “These are all things that interest me, characters who see themselves differently than they are seen.” Birdy is the latest in Dunham’s line of infuriating misfits, swirling around the family castle like a “disturbing villain” dervish.
“I’m constantly tweeting things and going, why did I tell the world that?” Dunham, then 25, told me the first time I sat down with her, in 2012. She wanted to capture the dissolution of boundaries between public and private that accompanied social media, she said. declared. Her knack for warding off controversy both on and off screen has made her a lightning rod for controversy for years, at least in part thanks to her compulsion to follow her scariest impulses.
When I tell Dunham now that I feel lucky to have reached adulthood before social media kicked in, she smiles. “Probably the right thing [to tell] someone in their twenties would be: show us your art, then you’re not allowed to do or say anything else. Just decrease the rest of the time! » Girls came “at the beginning of this wave of female-led television and I didn’t have a roadmap,” she says. “So I hope some young people can look at my career and say, here’s what I would do, and here’s what I wouldn’t do.” In the 2016 election, when she enthusiastically campaigned for Hillary Clinton, Dunham was demonized by Breitbart and the alt-right brothers’ online executives, who also seemed triggered by her outspoken feminism and lack of embarrassment about her untypical movie star body.
“It was such a weird political time with the shift from that Democratic moment to rampant conservatism, so I felt like I had to express myself politically. But there are a lot of challenges that come with that,” she says “I’m hoping I’ll be able to take the experience of being the momentary fiery face of feminism and incorporate it into something interesting in my work. But I can’t lie and say that was particularly fun.
At times, Dunham says, she had to have security guards on hand while she held public events. “The threat level on the internet, you assume it’s not real. And you don’t want to take it seriously, but I had someone send me floor plans of my apartment and to be like, ‘I know where your room is,'” she said. “I wouldn’t want even my worst enemy to know about the misogynistic rage that I experienced.”
Girls ended in 2017, and as Dunham now recalls, “The negative attention really forced me to go inward after Girls. My biggest prayer after Girls was just to regain my joy. Because telling stories was my greatest joy and I lost that feeling for a little while. The period following the end of the show, during which she and the former producing partner Jenni Konner did the short-lived HBO series Camping, was filled with an immense tumult. In 2018 alone, Dunham underwent a total hysterectomy to combat his endometriosis, did a stint in rehab for benzodiazepine addiction, and had public breakups both personal (longtime boyfriend Jack Antonoff) and professional (Konner, in a split so notable that the duo released a joint statement).
Dunham will likely relive these things in a second memoir for Random House which is currently being edited. Hardest thing to write? Get sober. “I want it to be very specific in the book,” she says. “It’s not like everywhere Girls I was a rabid drunk who came to work drunk. Towards the end of Girls, I was just a very anxious person struggling with an enormous amount of chronic pain, and that experience went from trying to get care to trying to take care of myself to suddenly being in over my head and need to take that time. And that month in rehab, even though it was the best thing I’ve ever done, was so full of shame and fear and anxiety and regret and it’s amazing for me to think about it now almost five years sober. Dunham is now married to a musician Luis Felber, who collaborated on the soundtrack of Catherine called Birdy, and says her life eventually settled down – “probably because I made a conscious choice to retire in certain ways.”
birdie has a light and playful feel, accompanied by versions of indie-rock tracks like Elastica and Supergrass. The awkward and graphic sex of Girls is completely absent. The same goes for much of the real sadness and misery of the Middle Ages – the illnesses and disfigurements, the bathroom arrangements (or lack thereof), the cruel and unusual punishments. “There’s a lot of stuff going on in the 13th century that you don’t see in this movie, because it’s seen through the eyes of a child,” Dunham says.
But there is a grueling scene of childbirth, a factor that also recurs in pointed stick– her recent independent film about a 26-year-old virgin, in which Dunham plays a pregnant, working mother. Dunham wrote in a Harper’s essay on learning she couldn’t conceive, but says she often doesn’t know what she’s working on in her movies until after. She does, however, see connective tissue in her last three films. “Tiny furniture is about late adolescence – the issue we were all talking about in 2008: will children ever grow up? pointed stick speaks of a medically retarded adolescence. So what birdie is about someone who has no right to be a teenager.