Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: R for language and some strong sexuality
Running Time: 97 min.
Cast: Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Embeth Davidtz
Director: Sharon Maguire
Screenplay: Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies, Richard Curtis (based on the book by Helen Fielding)
Review published February 18, 2002
Sometimes it takes a first-time director to breathe new life into what might otherwise be a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy. Such is the case with the refreshing comedy Bridget Jones's Diary, thanks in large part to first-time director Sharon Maguire's sense of sparkling visuals, along with a killer soundtrack that plays beautifully in unison with the romantic storyline. The original book's author, Helen Fielding, contributed on the screenplay, along with Richard Curtis, who also was responsible for the strikingly similar style-wise Notting Hill. Taking a gamble on the Texan actress, Renee Zellweger (Nurse Betty, Jerry Maguire), pays off well, and the supporting cast of kooky characters greatly contribute to the sense of fun.
Bridget Jones (Zellweger) is a 30-something London publishing assistant who finds it difficult to find love, partially due to her many indulgences (smoking, drinking, eating, talking, etc.). She resolves to try to clean up her act, and to help keep track of her progress, she keeps a diary of her daily activities. Things begin looking up when the boss in her office (Hugh Grant, Nine Months) begins taking a fancy to her, but things are going so perfectly she actually expects the worst (and just may get it). Also having to deal with her oddball friends makes maintaining focus difficult, especially due to her childhood annoyance Mark (Colin Firth, Londinium), who always seems to have something unhelpful to say at the worst possible times.
Bridget Jones's Diary is a cut above the usual genre fluff, mostly due to the likeable cast and aforementioned visual flair of the director. In addition, excellence in the writing department, as well as putting the well-developed characters into clever situations, helps bolster the comedy without things becoming too phony or contrived to believe. Zellweger once again shows why she is tailor-made for romantic comedies, giving her character a sympathetic sweetness and naiveté, without relying on ditzy blonde stereotypes to achieve cheap laughs.
Bridget Jones's Diary is recommended for adults in the mood for something light and funny, without all the saccharine aftertaste that most romantic comedies contain today.
-- Followed by Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
©2002 Vince Leo