Bridget Jones's Diary
Bridget Jones, in her Renée Zellweger film incarnation, is the most adorable creature in ages. At 32 and still unmarried, she has, she feels, plenty to worry about. She has to tread those infinitely fine lines between lust and insecurity, between wit and blabber, between self-awareness and hopeless naivete. We love everything about her.
She records in her diary every event, every sex fantasy, every self-flagellation about her own smoking, drinking, overeating, and social insecurities; and every hint of love or lust for or from a man. In this case, there are two men. The lust factor is taken care of by sexy Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), her boss at the publishing company where she is a publicist, a man whose life plan seems to consist of serial sexual conquest followed by quick abandonment. The lifetime-commitment factor is represented here by glum barrister Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), whom she first met at age four, when she cavorted nude in his backyard play-pool - an episode she is mortifyingly reminded of at every possible turn by her mother (Gemma Jones), who herself is now engaged in an affair with a slimy QFC-type show host.
As with many comic romances where the outcome is known in advance (do we really think she'll go off to live happily ever after with that bastard Hugh Grant? Of course not), the pleasure is in the getting there. And it is a great pleasure. Where Bridget might have been played as just a naïve dumpling, Zellweger, fine London accent and all, gives her wonderful touches of sweetness and self-awareness - and occasional moments of charming sophistication and wit - that make her even more lovable. We adore her, we agonize with her gaffes, we rejoice at her little victories, we see her slowly climb the ladder of self-awareness to achieve at the end at least a modicum of assurance.
And her lovers are not neglected here. Grant is given plenty of rein to show us both his sexy charm and his dismal hollowness. Firth, burdened by the script with almost too much sourness, lets us see the decent, and very brainy, man within - a man who can make as many social mistakes as Bridget can. The resolution requires almost as much from him as it does from her, which comes as a little bonus when the script might simply have settled for a by-the-numbers conclusion. Although we've seen everything here before, in dozens of other comic romances, we're happy to cheer for the new couple because they actually belong together.
The script, by the novel's author Helen Fielding, along with Andrew Davies and Richard Curtis, and the direction by first-timer Sharon Maguire, are smoothly done and well edited to make their points and move on. This is not always easy with comedies, where the temptation is to linger on the big moments and chop off the setups. "Bridget Jones" is a well-made comedy, and there aren't many films you can say that about these days.