Reviewed by: Barbara Frega
|Featuring||Renée Zellweger (Renee Zellweger), Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent, James Callis|
Sequel: “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” (2004)
“Bridget Jones’s Diary” is extolled as “zany” and a “character-driven romantic comedy,” and one would think the talents of Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant would promise a rather sweet romantic romp at very least, but in this instance we are presented with coarse and vulgar fare, and characters in a storyline where both are aimless and empty.
Meet Bridget Jones, a thirty-one-year-old publishing-house-marketing-clerk, whose poor self-image is irrevocably hinged to her lack of a romantic relationship. By her own admission, she weighs too much, drinks too much, and smokes too much, and in order to pursue finding a real bona-fide boyfriend, she takes up keeping a diary as a form of resolution against her vices. Did I say a resolution? Well, she’ll keep tabs upon them for the time being, we guess… for there is no apparent effort to restrain any behaviors—not in this film, not by Bridget, nor by anyone else for that matter.
Oddly enough, even while seeking a meaningful and mature relationship (not exactly her adjectives) with a man of character, Bridget seems to have no introspection nor comment to make upon her own untruthfulness, immodesty, promiscuity, general lewdness or her prevailing cynicism towards others. From frame one, we are beset with the truly doubtful notion that she could ever attract anyone at all. (This is not, however the filmmaker’s intention—she is meant to be witty, smart and tragic in a sweet way.) In actuality, she is crude, painfully juvenile, mindlessly rebellious, and profane. In fact, the humor to which the film aspires has very little to do with situation or character and everything to do with vulgarity, especially incessant use of the f-word. (In one instance there’s even a subtitle of the word.) We should expect more from the country that gave us Byron and Shakespeare.
A point should be made about the bad language in this or any film: Bad language or bad behavior per se, doesn’t mean a bad film for those of us seeking art or entertainment with some Godly, uplifting or profound message or values. If so, we would have to eliminate most of the Old Testament as “trashy” or “vile.” Bad language or behavior is sometimes simply indicative of the character’s need for redemption (remember “The Apostle,” “The Bad Lieutenant,” and “Magnolia”). But “Bridget Jones’s Diary” has not a sixteenth of the thematic endeavors of those films. No, it’s hard to assign to this film a loftier aim than its message of merely mindless pleasure-seeking. It is unclear if any character—including Bridget’s “chums”—has any values or principles, and it’s difficult to realize this group of self-absorbed thirty-somethings are at an age when they should be managing, or at least contributing to, the world.
The film’s final violation, then, is its utter pointlessness. it’s simply a vain look at the vain… a verification that those in their thirties have contemporaries who still in their teens. The vulgarity is clearly meant for those who revel in it. If you miss this film, do not fret—you have missed nothing. You might begin a diary of the really awful films you missed…
See our review of the 2004 sequel to this film: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason