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   BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY (2001) 

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CAST
Renée Zellweger
Hugh Grant
Colin Firth
Honor Blackman
Jim Broadbent
Crispin Bonham-Carter
James Callis
Embeth Davidtz
Shirley Henderson

DIRECTED BY
Sharon Maguire

PURCHASE


DVD




Soundtrack




The Novel




Time: 94 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Academy Award nomination for Best Actress (Zellweger).


I was looking forward to seeing this movie as a fan of the novel, which may not have given us the best story, but certainly one of the better heroines of our time. Bridget is more like most women than we'd like to admit. She drinks too much, smokes too much, makes bad decisions when it comes to men, wants to lose weight and speaks her mind too clearly all in an effort to make sure she doesn't wind up alone. The world doesn't look too kindly on career women in their 30s and Bridget takes it on the chin for all of us. I was not appalled like many others at the casting of Renée Zellweger as our favorite Brit. She is a good actress who is usually the best thing in most of her movies.

You can clearly see that she did gain weight to play the role of the constantly dieting Bridget. Unfortunately, she just looks pleasantly plump and not drastically overweight. I think they hired all these really thin actresses to play supporting roles to help make her look fatter. However, I digress. I have to admit, on the whole, this movie was one of the better romantic comedies I've seen in a long time. The filmmakers did a great job distilling this rather complicated year in the life of Bridget into a very sweet, funny and enjoyable flick. The only problem is they lost the essence of Bridget. Zellweger does an admirable job, giving the character just the right amount of spunk, intelligence and silliness to make her irresistible to men. However, the love story is only a small part of the novel.

The book is mainly a journey of self-discovery, where Bridget learns that despite all the problems in her family life, her bad habits and the fact that she'll never be 120 pounds, to love herself just as she is. It's this new self-confidence that helps her stop making the wrong choices in love and find a man who respects her, despite the fact that she's not the most graceful or thought-provoking person on the planet. In the movie, Bridget certainly has her foibles, but all of the manic behavior is pushed aside to bring us someone who's already aware of who she is, if not exactly always comfortable showing that side to the world.


"It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces."

I know it's not necessarily interesting in the movies to talk about dieting and to see someone falling on and off the wagon, but these are essential aspects to Bridget's character and it's a shame to see them whitewashed into obscurity. In the film, the character becomes just like every other slightly kooky romantic lead. Yes, this is definitely more approachable to the mainstream audience, but I wish they had kept some of her dark side. It made her more real. The film opens at her parent's Christmas party where Bridget is cajoled by her mother to re-meet Mark Darcy (Firth), a handsome up-and-coming barrister whom she played with as a child. Both of them are dressed by their mothers and after a rather short, uncomfortable conversation, take an instant dislike to each other. He's too rigid and snotty, she's too silly and outspoken. Bridget doesn't give him another thought.

She's in lust with her boss Daniel Cleaver (Grant). After a saucy exchange of emails, he asks her out on a date. He seems to find her foot in mouth disease quite enchanting. Mainly because he wants to get inside her granny-sized knickers. Which is exactly what happens after their book launch party where Bridget learns that she's not only a bad public speaker, but that Mark Darcy and Daniel know and dislike each other immensely. Which is fine by her, because Mark was equally insufferable the second time around. As things seem to be moving along quite nicely for Bridget and Daniel, her parents' marriage takes a turn for the worse. Her mother, bored with her life as a housewife in the country, runs off with a television infomercial spokesman. Bridget is appalled, seeing her mom shilling cheap jewelry on television with her lover, but is more worried about the toll it's taking on her father, a quiet man who just wants his old life back.

As far as her job and love life are concerned things couldn't be going better, until a weekend away in the country with Daniel makes him freak out and run for the hills, a.k.a. the arms of another woman. Not willing to take the spiteful humiliation, Bridget screws up her courage, finds a new job in television news and tells Daniel where he can stick his apologies. It takes awhile for her to get the hang of being an on-air reporter, but eventually with the surprising help of Mark Darcy, finds herself on the road to success. She's even begun to enjoy his random presence in her life. Every time they meet he peels away a layer of stuffiness to reveal something soft and sweet inside. Bridget can't seem to reconcile this lovely Mark Darcy with the cad that Daniel told her about. When Mark arrives and salvages her birthday dinner, her romantic leaning seems to shift...that is until Daniel shows up and ruins everything. An all-out brawl ensues between the two men, with Bridget finally realizing that she wants more than to be someone's consolation prize. It's not hard to figure out where the rest of the story goes, so I'll leave the details of the road to happily ever after to you to discover yourself.

It's interesting to see how much better Renée Zellweger is becoming with each starring role. She was great in NURSE BETTY and does a fantastic job here. She pulls out all the stops, giving every embarrassing, silly moment its' due. She's a fine comedienne and makes this an all-out delight to watch. She actually pulls off the accent, which is only strange coming from her mouth because I know what she normally sounds like. It's like hearing Nicole Kidman speak with an Australian accent after seeing her play Americans for so long. She also has chemistry with both Grant and Firth which is not an easy task. Grant is wonderfully slimy as her boss. He should play roles like this more often. It suits him better than the eye-fluttering, stammering romantic lead. Having watched Colin Firth in the bad guy/unwanted suitor role for years, I'm glad this time he finally gets the girl. He's incredibly attractive here with those penetrating eyes that let you know there's something fiery going on underneath that stuffy exterior. The scene where the men duke it out in the street is certainly one of the more realistic fist fights ever captured on film. Most men have no idea what to do and I'm sure it would look awkward and silly like this one does, instead of the brawls in most action movies.

The rest of the supporting cast is somewhat incidental. They do what little they have to do admirably, but they all just kind of blend together. Bridget's mates have a much bigger role in the book and some of their foibles have been removed which is a shame. However, love rules here and with a fantastic soundtrack of new and old favorites I dare you to not fall under this film's spell. The only thing keeping these people apart are their own faults and misjudgments. Fate is nowhere to be found and that's a refreshing commodity these days. Even though she's lost her edge, BRIDGET JONES is still an interesting girl to spend some time with.


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