|Bridget Joness Diary
dir Sharon Maguire
scr Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies, Richard Curtis
with Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Shirley Henderson, Sally Phillips, James Callis, Embeth Davidtz, Neil Pearson, Celia Imrie, Honor Blackman
release UK & US 13.Apr.01
Universal-Miramax 01/UK 1h40
See also: BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON (2004) • BRIDGET JONES's BABY (2016)
Fielding's mega-selling novel makes the leap to the big screen with the help of the talented team at Working Title, including the writer and star of both Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill. And the result is another hugely entertaining Brit-com, filled with memorable characters and situations.
Bridget (Zellweger) is a 30something Londoner who feels condemned to being a "singleton"--despite the valiant attempts of her mother (Jones) to set her up with former childhood playmate Mark Darcy (Firth, in a nifty bit of casting). Meanwhile, Bridget is developing a flirtation with her boss (Grant), while her loyal circle of friends (Henderson, Phillips, Callis) love her no matter what she does.
There's nothing terribly original about the story--indeed, it's basically a 21st century reworking of Pride and Prejudice--but the character details make it great fun. As played by Zellweger, Jones is a pretty hopeless case, but we can't help but like her and root for her to find some happiness in her life ... somewhere! Her friends are drawn in broad stereotypes, but are still hilarious. And both Grant and Firth make the most of roles that subtly subvert their well-honed images.
As the plot lunges toward its predictable finale, there are all kinds of joys along the way--carefully observed comedy extremely well-written by Fielding, Davies (The Tailor of Panama and, erm, Pride and Prejudice) and Curtis (Four Weddings and Notting Hill), and adeptly directed by Maguire. No, it's not terribly demanding, and it's too busy setting up the happily-ever-after finale to even attempt a serious point about being single. But there are astute observations along the way, more than enough big laughs and, in Zellweger's capable hands, a terrific look at a singleton on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
"Bridget and Mark (Zellweger and Firth) were perfect. Perfect casting, perfect acting and perfect accent for Bridget, too. Yes, it was a very, very funny film, but I think the makers were so excited about striking gold with their lead actors that they forgot to apply themselves to the rest of the film. Jude, Shazzer and Tom were but shadows of their former selves, as they appeared in the book. And I was looking forward to Bridget's monstrous mother muscling into the action -- but it was all a bit half-hearted. Hugh Grant doesn't really make a very convincing love rat, I feel -- although that Mercedes he was driving was a dream. It sounds as if I didn't enjoy this. But I really did -- I just think I would have enjoyed it more if the casting had been a bit more consistent. Having said that, it was worth seeing for her resignation speech alone." --Jo Caswell, West Sussex 9.May.01