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:: Bridget Jones's Diary

Ally McBeal was the television assurance to the professional female that it was normal to feel anxieties about an unsuccessful love life, while having good careers and financial independence. It was also an assurance that television, sometimes seen as the weight of the working class, also supported a higher niche market. These stories of professional stress come in movie form. Starting as a column in English newspapers Bridget Jones’ Diary became a novel grossing four million fans. As a screenplay written also by Helen Fielding it is unclear how successful the film will turn. Stars include American Renee Zellweger and Hugh Grant who both border on a swinging audience. The movie also depends on the likeability of the character Bridget who is uncomfortable and embarrassing. The story is one like the Abba fans who found solace in Muriel’s Wedding, while others may watch in horror, as a strange woman called Bridget Jones dances this time to Chaka Chan. To play Bridget, Zellweger put on an English accent and the weight of thirty-two years depressed from single life. She is developed as a pathetic character, and it takes the first hour to find her endearing as the aloof ice queen now bitter and accepting of singledom. The story is about her finding love. Bridget must chose between two ex-friends. Storyline is character humour, based around the female working and partying hard.

The characters are all paid professionals, which will be the intended audience. As a publicity officer for a London Publishing house, she ‘fanny(s) around with the ‘press releases’ and organises book launches. Her love interests are her boss and a lawyer, while her friends comprise of a ‘business dynamo’, an ex pop star and a journalist. Bridget changes career mid story to a television current affairs reporter. Her mother becomes a presenter on the home-shopping channel. As sickening as the representation of her group of professional characters, Bridget changes jobs with ease although with little talent in any area. Similarly the ease of which she can bluff knowledge in areas of where she lack expertise, and still come through with the luck of an inside friend places Bridget in an annoying professional elite group. The comedy is that Bridget’s character presents an air of confusion at her professional situation, in spite of position. This form of humorous self-referentialism is shared when boss (Grant) jokes that their current novel will be ‘The Worst Book Ever Published’.

Bridget Jones and her friends are kept busy with nightly engagements. Entertainments include work functions but also nights of drinking Chardonnay and vodka and smoking cigarettes. Lifestyle includes self-help books, and later Bridget also attended the gym to lose weight. When Bridget reaches anxiety point, she starts a diary to take control of her life. This is sometimes prescribed in movie portrayals of US therapy, but it is also said to be the development of many writers. I question why the professional writer chose then to keep a diary for the first time. I also question how she could have thirty-two years of single life, and how this problem finally peaked. As there is no comparison to past relationships, this is made to be the movie of how Bridget got her first boyfriend. It is then the reassurance to those in a long-term single situation that things will work out.

It is the story of a person who has been concerned with their career for many years. It is also the story of a sole child who can still be pressured by her mother. While living alone in London she is required to attend her parents annual turkey curry buffet on New Years Day. She returns hungover, and is obliged to change into an outfit supplied by her mother and similar to her mother’s tastes. This relationship is mirrored by her love interest Mark Darcy, whom we meet in a knitted reindeer jumper and see later in a Santa tie. While they meet at various family functions, they also have mutual friends that form their London urban family. In a story that illustrates that people older can still have problems with their parents, It is interesting that the pair originally set up by their mothers end up together.

The soundtrack consists of some backdated classics for the 30+ markets such as Belinda Carlisle and Chaka Khan as well as newer Van Morrison, Celine Dion, and Geri Halliwell’s It’s Raining Men. Available on Mercury, it’s a middle of the road soundtrack. The score by Patrick Doyle was unnoticeable.

While Renee Zellweger was chosen for her likability of persona and perhaps beauty, Bridget is not seen as stunning. The camera realism provides us with pudgy thighs and blotchy skin, until Bridget becomes sexually active and happy. As ‘no longer tragic spinster in the manner of Eleanor Rigby, but proper girlfriend of bona fide sex god with large car’ Bridget is given well-formed lips and foundation, a transformation with credit to Graham Johnston.

If you would have read the cartoons for Caroline In The City, find Kaz Cooke’s books for Every Single Girl and their Cat amusing, or listen to a commercial mix radio station at your office job then Bridget Jones’ Diary is for you. Look out for microphone checks, underwear decisions, and work emails.

Screening on general release