Passion projects can go all sorts of wrong ways, but Lena Dunham has made something of a triumph in “ Catherine Called Birdy,” a medieval coming-of-age story that’s part “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” part Mel Brooks and all joy.

The film is based on a book she discovered at age 10, when she was an angsty fourth grader in New York City. She found a kind of comfort and coziness in Karen Cushman’s Newbery Honor-winning novel about a spirited 14-year-old living in the year 1290 in the English countryside.

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