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Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001)

Bridget Jones Diary poster

Helen Fielding’s novel was a monster in the Nineties (so was The Rules:  you had to be there.) This adaptation was anticipated with huge dread in certain quarters – women’s mostly, because the book was so talismanic. It is of course an adaptation thrice over, given that it started as a newspaper column, radically reinvented Pride and Prejudice,  and the film has even more meta traction by casting Colin Firth as (Mark) Darcy, the star of the 1995 TV series which was a global hit.  Then there was the issue of Renee Zellwegger: definitely not British. And yet … she’s unbelievably likeable as the overweight, fumbling, messy Bridget, whose New Year’s resolution to keep a diary and record her weight loss doesn’t work. (Well. She keeps the diary. Weight lost:  not so much.)  Choosing between cad Hugh Grant and prissy lawyer Colin Firth doesn’t seem like such hardship but smart characterisation and sardonic quips from Bridget herself and her posse of friends shape the story into a terrific read on the perils of the modern dating scene. It helps that her mother’s adulterous relationship with a mahogany-coloured shopping channel host is a hoot. It was adapted by Fielding herself with contributions by Andrew Davies (who adapted P&P for TV) and Richard Curtis (her one-time boyfriend) and directed by her bestie Shazza (Sally Phillips here). This is not a story of transformation. It’s about how most of us just blunder through life without a plan and settle for what we can get – until we raise our standards. This has aged amazingly well – but then there’s so little competition out there. Except, of course, for the third instalment due any week now … Must put that in diary.

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About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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