Alice in Movieland











{January 20, 2010}   Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Alright, back to my backtracking… where was I? Oh yes. I had reached Alan-Rickman-overload and needed to watch something/anything else. Bridget Jones’s Diary popped into my head as an option I hadn’t seen in forever, so I went for it. …and fell in love with the irresistible Colin Firth.

The movie is based on Helen Fielding’s book of the same name and is a modern retelling of/spin on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Instead of Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters, we now have Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) and her band of friends; in place of Wickham, we have Bridget’s boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant); and standing in for Mr. Darcy, we have… Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth). Mark Darcy, that is. *clears throat*

Starts off with Bridget arriving at her mother’s annual Turkey Curry Buffet, dreading the idea that her mother would probably try to set her up with someone. She was right. Her mother almost immediately introduces her to Mark and runs away, hoping they’ll hit it off. Nervous, Bridget makes a fool of herself by rambling on about her drinking and smoking habits. Minutes later, in line for the buffet, she overhears him telling his mother that he doesn’t need to be set up, “particularly not with some verbally incontinent spinster who drinks like a fish, smokes like a chimney, and dresses like her mother.” Ouch. Hearing herself described in that manner, Bridget realizes she needs to make some changes. She vows to lose weight, find a respectable boyfriend, and stop fantasizing about her boss. To keep track of these New Years’ Resolutions, she starts a diary (hence, our title). Well, she very quickly fails at the last two and, instead of ignoring Daniel, in short order begins shagging him. He, however, equally quickly cheats on her with a colleague who’s over from the states. When Bridget finds out, she is devastated, but resolves that she “will not be defeated by a bad man and an American stick insect.” She quits her job at the publishing house to get away from him and is hired elsewhere as a television journalist. Meanwhile, she has continued to periodically run into Mark Darcy (EVER accompanied by his assistant Natasha). At first, he was the last person she wanted to see, believing (based on Daniel’s account) that Mark had previously slept with Daniel’s fiancée, leaving Daniel brokenhearted. Now however, despite having been very dour at every meeting while she was dating Daniel, he professes to like her and, indeed, seems warmer at every meeting, especially when he comes by on her birthday and attempts to rescue the dinner. Things fall to pieces, though, when Daniel interrupts their little party. Mark, uncomfortable with being in the same room as Daniel (and possibly believing that Bridget is about to take him back), leaves but immediately returns to have it out with him. Insert funny sissy fight. When Daniel is knocked out with the last punch, Bridget sides with him (one nearly wonders if he might not be faking for exactly that purpose). Only later does Bridget realize her mistake when she learns from her mother that it was not Mark who slept with Daniel’s fiancée, but Daniel who slept with Mark’s wife, leaving Mark, not Daniel, the brokenhearted one. She hurries to apologize only to discover that he is planning to leave to take a job in America. To comfort her, her friends decide to take her to Paris, but, at the last minute, guess who shows up. :)

The message of the movie is simple: be brave enough to be yourself and, in the end, someone will love you just as you are. It’s a message that all women long to believe, but which is too often told to them unconvincingly by someone who has it all together. Not this time. That’s where this movie triumphs. Bridget hits a note with women everywhere becuse she *doesn’t* have it all together and EVERY woman can identify with her in one way or another, be it her wobbly self-image, her battles with weight, her difficulties with men, or simply her struggle to come into her own. What woman hasn’t wondered whether she is the one exception who will never get it all together and find her happy ending? What single woman in her 30’s hasn’t heard the ticking clock and felt like she was the only one left alone? When Bridget unveiled her private thoughts to the world, a cry went up, a cry of recognition, as females everywhere rejoiced that they weren’t alone, they weren’t abnormal. Bridget’s frankness and candor is both refreshing and delightful and her honesty in her successes *and* failures gives women hope and reassurance. As she gives us the gift of laughter, we are freed to release our fears as well. Bridget found love in the end. We will, too.

Zellweger did an incredible job with this role, moving to England well before filming in order to immerse herself in the setting and learn the language (British, as opposed to American, English) and the accent. She even took at job at a publishing house for a little while. She was totally committed to the part and pleasantly stunned the rest of the cast with her work ethic. As a result, she delivers a performance of haunting honesty and gives her character, already so alive to Fielding’s readers, a very human face and further endeared her to viewers.

Firth does an excellent job as Darcy (by now, he’s had enough practice with the character). On subsequent viewings, it’s fun to pay close attention to Mark’s expressions each time he sees Bridget and watch the subtle progression. Firth has extremely expressive eyes and seems to be a master at controlling exactly how much emotion they reveal. He makes reserved, apparently snooty lawyers hot. Grant, on the other hand, was outrageous in his role as Cleaver. If Firth’s was a job in subtlety, hiding Mark’s great sensitivity behind a guise of aloofness, Grant’s job was to go over the top in portraying Daniel as a suave womanizer. He succeeded brilliantly. He’s slimey enough to despise, but too charming to hate.

Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent played the parts of Bridget’s parents. Their subplot nicely rounded out the movie. And, by the by, two of Bridget’s friends seemed strangely familiar to me. You might recognize them. Tom (James Callis) went on to play Gaius Baltar in Battlestar Galactica and Jude (Shirley Henderson) later had the part of Moaning Myrtle in two of the Harry Potter movies (In her first scene, where she’s crying on the phone to Bridget, her voice is unmistakable. And, amusingly/coincidentally, she’s in a bathroom.)

Needless to say, this is one of my favorite movies. After watching it online, I just had to go out and buy it. Barnes & Noble had a Buy 2, Get 1 special, so I got Bridget Jones 1, Bridget Jones 2, AND the 5-hour BBC Pride and Prejudice! A very nice beginning to my Colin Firth collection. (Gee, I wonder which movies I’m going to review next?? :-p)

This trailer mix-up humored me. Very funny.

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kithica says:

I liked Bridget Jones 1, but I found it depressing in the end. I’d been able to identify all the way through, but the ending was so storybook it felt completely unattainable. But that could have more to do with my headspace while watching it.

Bridget Jones 2 was just about unbearable. She was being stupid and I wanted to smack her.

Pride and Prejudice the miniseries is one of my favourite things ever. It was perfect, there can be no Mr. Darcy after Colin Firth, and the Keria Knightley version can go jump in a lake. :)

You should watch Nanny McPhee when you’re done with these. SO charming.



AliceInMovieland says:

Well, the only other option was for him to stay in America and for them not to get together, but that would have been sad, not followed their attempted retake on P&P, and not have led to a sequel. Not much of a chance they weren’t going to go with the storynbook ending. But I enjoy a storybook ending. I like the emotional high it gives me. :-p

As for the sequel (though I *am* about to review it, so I’ll be brief), yes, she is incredibly stupid in it, but I liked it (in a completely different way from the 1st) because I identify with her stupidity even more in the 2nd one and it reminds me not to be as insecure and paranoid as she is (though, sadly, I sometimes feel like her). I like it basically as a negative example. But I’ll ramble on about that when I review it. :-p I’m sure you’ll be *thrilled* :-p

I saw the Keira Knightley version first. I have to admit I loved it. It’s why I read the book (horrible person that I was, I had never read any Austen). But I had never seen the miniseries. I am converted! Matthew Macfadyen has *nothing* on Colin Firth. Be still my beating heart. ::sigh::

I *have* seen McPhee! Very cute. :) I’ll be reviewing it a little further on.

Thanks for the comment!!



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