Director: Sharon Maguire
Verdict: Fucking lush
If you take a cursory glance at my DVD collection, you may see such films together in blocks as High-Rise, The Hitcher, and Honeymoon; you may see Bronson, next to The Brood; Mulholland Drive, Near Dark, and The Neon Demon together at last on my shelves. What you may not see is that also nestling there next to High-Rise is High Fidelity. If you take a look left of Mulholland Drive you’ll find stacked horizontally, Mean Girls; and next to Bronson, Bridget Jones’s Diary, (which really should be Bridget Jones’ Diary but oh well). I recently dropped a Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason reference on holidy and drew looks of shock from my Australian cousins.
Bridget Jones’s Diary, (it irritates me every time I type that), follows the mistfortunes of ‘serious reporter’ Bridget Jones and her romantic escapades. In this modernisation of the key themes, plot beats, and attitudes of Pride and Prejudice we find a similar eviceration of the genre in which it finds itself. Instead of a beautiful Amy Adams making her way to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend on the leap year before falling in love with the local Irish guy, or a perfectly lovely Christina Ricci except for a bad CGI pig’s nose trying to find her one true love, (referenced films are Leap Year and Penelope), we have Bridget Jones, professional spinster, sex lover and vodka drinker. She’s self concious about her weight and her vices and doesnt know how to adult. If that isn’t the most damn relatable thing I’ve ever seen then I don’t know what is. I’m only 18 and I already feel like Bridget Jones.
Cards on the table time, you might be able to tell by now, I love Bridget Jones’s Diary. Not in an ironic way, not in an ‘oh look I’m a dude who also likes chick flicks aren’t I cool and trendy’ way, no. I love Bridget Jones’s Diary because Bridget Jones herself is a superb and on the money comic creation. Rene Zelweger, (who I might remind you got her start with Matthew McConahey in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4, or Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation), was actually Oscar nominated for her role in this film and I’m honestly not suprised because she does really add to the character, with a superb performance and half decent British accent but it’s at least in part down to the wonderful script. Helen Fielding adapts her own novel with the aids of screenwriting heavy weights Richard Curtis, (The Black Adder, About Time, Love Actually), who I just have abounding love for, and Andrew Davies, who’d actually adapted Pride and Prejudice before for the BBC. It’s really funny, it’s relatable and it’s a character aimed at people who you probably actually know and not Tom Cruise Tom-Cruising all over the place.
The film is also aided by a plethora of great supporting performances. Hugh Grant, (About a Boy, Four Weddings and a Funeral) plays somewhat I think against type here as a complete cad where as before he was just sort of bumblingly useless but he does pull off the whole cad thing with aplomb, as he does in the sequel. Colin Firth, (The King’s Speech, Kingsman: The Secret Service, A Single Man) is as always, fantastic, he’s a great actor who knows what he is, what his range is and how to opporate perfectly within it. Gemma Jones, (You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Spooks) delights as the mother; Jim Broadbent, (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Brooklyn, Filth) does that thing that Jim Broadbent does of looking kind of droopy in an avuncular mannar; Bridget’s hoard of friends, peopled by Shirley Henderson, (Trainspotting, Marie Antoinette, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), Sally Phillips, (Miranda), and James Callis, (Battlestar Galactica), all know exactly how to play their roles for maximum endearment.
It’s also shot in a way that feels really, I guess honest. It’s not particularly styalised, it’s got a pretty naff jukebox soundtrack and it looks like they just sort of flung the camera anywhere for funky angles but it kind of knows how naff it is. It knows that it’s a bit cheap and a bit trashy but it has fun with that, just like our heroin is by the people for the people, the filmmaking is lo-fi enough to seem on purpose.
The sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, is absolutely not a good film, however I like it, and I like it because I get to spend time with these characters who I feel endeared towards. It’s nice, it’s fun, and occasioanally makes me want to watch from behind my fingers with embarassment but mainly nice and fun. In the end Bridget Jones’s Diary is a well acted, staunchly funny subvertion of the romcom. It’s not exactly a feminist manifesto, and it’s not gonna change the world, but it makes me laugh and essentially serves as a warm cup of hot coacoa so there.