Bridget Jones's Diary
It's not uncommon for me to write a movie review within minutes of watching a film, as I often find the thoughts are immediately popping in my head like so many overheated kernels of corn. But then there are films like Bridget
Jones's Diary – dangerous movies to review right after watching. They're dangerous because
there's a serious risk of putting hyperbole on the page that I'll later regret.
It's my Summer of Sam Syndrome, and it sometimes leads me to put a few hours between a screening and writing the review.
But even after a cooling off period, I can't say enough about Renee Zellweger. I said it after One True Thing
("key to the film's success"), and again after Nurse Betty ("as likeable a performance as you will ever
see") – she is one awesomely intelligent, talented and likeable actor. And now you can add
'courageous' to the list of accolades, as Zellweger plays the overweight and occasionally socially backward Bridget with full-out abandon. Zellweger is Bridget Jones through and through, and she carries the film on her shoulders, single-handedly turning it into a sweet and loveable hoot – a refreshingly real romantic comedy not to be missed.
Based on Helen Fielding's popular novel, and capably directed by first-timer Sharon Maguire, the movie chronicles 32-year-old
Bridget's journey through early-30s singleness in London, England. She's spunky and smart, constantly trying to lose weight, quit smoking and cut down on her drinking – especially when
she's home alone feeling sorry for herself. Not exactly endowed with great judgement, Bridget leaps into a relationship with her dashing but devious boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), and pooh-poohs her
mother's would-be match with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), an overly serious lawyer about whom Daniel has terrible stories to tell.
It's obvious to everyone watching – and likely to Bridget as well – that things
aren't likely to work out with Daniel, and that Mark is a much better choice. But Bridget needs to learn these lessons on her own, even if that means
she's going to end up with neither of them.
Bridget Jones's Diary is funny, heartbreaking, inspiring and wonderful. Zellweger has fabulous comedic timing and inspires huge empathy. She even pulls off an English accent flawlessly. Zellweger is helped here by strong performances by Grant and especially Firth, whose restraint makes his character utterly real and all the more tantalizing when he seems unattainable. The magnificent Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones are also wonderful as
Bridget's troubled parents.
This is romantic comedy that's a thousand times more like the real world than the stuff Hollywood pumps out by the dozen each year. In
Bridget's world, there are five – or ten – heartbreaks for every triumph, nobody is as perfect – or as awful – as they look, and fights between jealous men tend to involve more wrestling and kicking than spectacular but fake-sounding right crosses. From start to finish, Bridget
Jones's Diary feels like the real thing. And in this case, the real thing is a very, very good thing.