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BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY(director: Sharon Maguire; screenwriters: Helen Fielding/Andrew Davies/Richard Curtis/based on the novel by Ms. Fielding; cinematographer: Stuart Dryburgh; editor: Martin Walsh; cast: Renée Zellweger (Bridget Jones), Colin Firth (Mark Darcy), Hugh Grant (Daniel Cleaver), Jim Broadbent (Colin Jones), Gemma Jones (Bridget’s Mum), James Callis (Tom), Embeth Davidtz (Natasha), Patrick Barlow (Julian); Runtime: 94; Universal/ StudioCanal/Miramax Films; 2001)
“The only thing I remember is the fake Christmas snow scenes.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A reactionary sitcom romantic comedy set in London, that was based on the popular book by Helen Fielding. But it is lacking the same wit the book had. Through director Sharon Maguire’s womanly touch and because the main character is female and the author is female, the focus of the film is centered on female issues: how the heroine perseveres and grows by facing her spinster and overweight conflict.

Fans of the book and those who like fluff comedy/romances which go by the formula and are harmless fun, where the sex is unseen and kept in place, should get their jollies off on this one. I found it to be unbearably trite, a contrived tale about an overweight, insecure, single 32-year-old, British publicist for a book publisher, Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger), who gets tongue-tied when asked to talk in uncomfortable situations. It’s a film that desperately tries to be charming and pleasing, offering not much wisdom in its search for the truth about the dating game. On the positive side the American actress proves to be capable of the starring part. She has a convincing British accent, while being able to do all the emotional things the film called for; she even carries the pic on her heavy shoulders, getting some help from Hugh Grant’s usual hangdog expressions and comedy antics.

The film centers around Bridget’s decision making ability as she’s sexually attracted to someone she intellectually knows is Mr. Wrong, played by Hugh Grant. He’s Daniel Cleaver, her womanizing boss at the publishing company where she works. Meanwhile, Bridget resists the quieter charms of Mr. Right. He’s someone who was a childhood playmate and is now a successful lawyer, but seems stuffy. The character of Mark Darcy is played in a straight-forward manner by Colin Firth.

The main character learns her lesson the hard way, as she goes out with her snake charmer boss and learns one day that he’s two-timing her.

Mark is reacquainted with Bridget by her mother at their regular Christmas gathering. He is divorced and is currently seeing a snooty lawyer in his firm, Natasha (Davidtz). By the way, I thought they were perfectly matched but since that isn’t in the cards for this script, Mark pines away for Bridget after they fail to connect on their first meeting at the party (he thought that she talked too much and she found him to be smug). The two keep missing out on each other’s company due to silly misunderstandings.

There are more misunderstandings resulting from Cleaver, Mark’s Cambridge University rival. Cleaver will make up a story that Mark stole his future wife away from him, which can easily be seen through as a lie; but, Bridget accepts it and disdains Mark for being such a cad. When all the dust clears and Mark gets a chance to be seen as not such a snob but as a lawyer fighting for civil rights, he is redeemed in her eyes. He has a fist fight in public with Cleaver over her and she also learns that Cleaver lied to her about Mark.

There’s not much to chew on, but it is ably photographed and directed and acted. It’s not a film that will linger in one’s memory. The only thing I remember is the fake Christmas snow scenes.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”