Bridget Jones’s Diary (review)

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My Movie Diary

Have resolved never again to go to movies that make me feel insecure. Since this would eliminate most Hollywood movies, which invariably star 22-year-old, 102lb blondes, have reconsidered. So here I sit.
Perfect example of what I’m talking about. Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger: Nurse Betty, One True Thing), English neurotic and, alas, international icon thanks to Helen Fielding’s bestselling novel, quite clearly does not need to lose the 20lbs she thinks she does: she’s curvy and has hips and breasts, like real women do. She’s cute as hell. That may be part of the film’s point — people (ie, women) can be self-conscious about things they’ve got no reason to be self-conscious about. Certainly, Bridget doesn’t seem to want for male attention — how fat and ugly can you be if both Colin Firth (Shakespeare in Love, The English Patient) and Hugh Grant (Mickey Blue Eyes, Notting Hill) are after you? Too bad that point gets trashed when we look at the hoopla surrounding the film, which is impossible to avoid if you’re a movie fan: Zellweger gained a much-publicized 20 or so pounds to play Bridget — quite daring, because even though Bridget may be charming and lovely with her appropriate female padding, Zellweger would be fat and unemployable. (Needless to say, Zellweger lost all the weight she gained, and then some, lest it be said she’d gone to pot by accident.) So the idea that you can be desirable even if you’re not model-thin gets its lovely fleshy legs with their well-turned ankles cut out from under it. Bah.

Colin Firth. *sigh* I’ve always preferred the Mr. Darcys of the world, even this version: Mark Darcy, attorney, whose reserve is only broken to display his arrogance. What a man! Bridget is an idiot for snubbing him. (Well, he snubs her first, doesn’t he?)

Okay, Hugh Grant’s not bad, either, especially here. Never been much of a fan of his stuttering, floppy-haired characters, but his Daniel Cleaver is funny and charming and positively magnetic. Bridget calls him the “office scoundrel” — he’s her boss at the publishing house she works at — but we don’t see much wrong with him, except his sorta improper advances to Bridget. Not that she doesn’t welcome them.

I hate to keep coming back to this, but the film does: The idea that Bridget is old and fat is appalling!

The 30- and 40something single women I hang out with do not constantly obsess about getting married or worry about being eaten by dogs. (I must be hanging out with the wrong people.) Bridget’s anxious fantasies about her lonely demise are momentarily funny, but I’m finding myself frowning more as the movie unspools.

Bridget’s parents: Jim Broadbent (Topsy-Turvy, Little Voice) and Gemma Jones (Longitude, Wilde). Lovely, lovely people. Broadbent reminds me of my dad.

The movie cheats! Daniel turns out to be an obnoxious bastard, and when Bridget tells him off in the office, in front of everyone, they all break into applause at the end. Why? We haven’t seen him do a single thing to earn the enmity of all his coworkers! Unfair! Bridget knows things about Daniel, things that have influenced the way she thinks about him, that we haven’t been privy to. We’ve only seen a guy who’s rather adorably caddish (until his one inexcusable betrayal of Bridget), and we’ve gotten to like him, when all along there were reasons we shouldn’t have… reasons we needed to know.

Again! All of a sudden, out of the blue, and without preamble, Mark Darcy tells Bridget: “I like you just as you are.” Say what? He has no idea that this is precisely the right thing to say to a woman who has been obsessing over every tiny detail of her life and her body. And Mark has disappeared from the screen for such a long stretch of the movie that we have no basis to accept his sudden change of heart. The only other explanation for his bizarre comment is that yes, there must be something freakishly wrong with Bridget that, like the Elephant Man or the Beast, she must be reassured right off the bat that a suitor sees her true inner self, and not her grotesque exterior. Argh!

I am now in a peevish snit, arms crossed defensively against a movie that has crossed the line from silly if mildly amusing to absurd and ridiculous. Would even an admittedly lousy cook like Bridget serve plastic soup to her best friends? Come on!

Credits roll. So do my eyes. Still, Colin Firth… *sigh*

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