‘I like you, very much. Just as you are…’
It’s weird how stuff can just pass you by. Bridget Jones’s Diary was a huge cultural phenomenon during my formative years, and yes it was aggressively marketed towards women, but it still feels odd that it has taken until now for me to watch a film that undoubtedly has a wonderful cast, as well as boasting Richard Curtis on writing duties. I guess it’s for the same reasons that I have also never seen The Devil Wears Prada or Mamma Mia!. It’s just doesn’t feel like my bag. This may seem like a gender thing, but I also have nothing but contempt for the James Bond franchise, so it isn’t just that. Part of it is an identity issue. These people are posh. They live in London. They aren’t my people. But then it can’t be denied that I’m also not a dragon, and yet I love Lord of the Rings. Much to ponder…
Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) is a laughing stock, despite boasting a successful career, living in London and having two of the most handsome British men in living memory fighting over her. Although it isn’t always plain sailing. One of the men, Mark (Colin Firth) is aloof and cold toward Bridget, and Daniel (Hugh Grant) – the third leg of this unlikely tripod – is a notorious shagger with eyes on other women. Bridget starts a diary in an attempt to make sense of the mess she has made throughout various aspects of her life.
First off, it must be said that Renee Zellweger was a brave choice in the titular role. To cast an American as one of the ‘90s most iconic British creations was a move that could have backfired spectacularly. Luckily, Zellweger does a great job in humanising a character that could have so easily come across as daft and over the top. She is flanked by Hugh Grant playing against type as a smarmy, villainous cad, and big Colin Firth also shunning his usual charm in favour of a desperate social discomfort. The result is a movie that is emotionally engaging and occasionally funny. I was rooting for Bridget by the end. I laughed along with Hugh Grant’s cutting asides, and winced my way through the scenes shared between Zellweger and Firth. This isn’t high art, of course, but then, nor is it meant to be. This is a familiar tale told with a comforting predictability that also manages to showcase the best of a talented cast.
And, it’s a Christmas film. There’s snow, and arguments, and drinking. All the best bits of Christmas. And as Christmas films go, Bridget Jones’s Diary is a rather good one.