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Bridget Jones' Diary (15)



Review: Jack Foley

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary with director Sharon Maguire; Behind-the-scenes featurette; Bridget Jones articles; Music videos; Deleted scenes.

I HAVE to confess that the idea of sitting through nearly two hours of film featuring an overweight, angst-ridden thirty-something woman as she struggles to understand men did not seem like the perfect night at the flicks for me.

Far from it. But the truth is, Bridget Jones's Diary is a cracking movie - one that, which certainly packed cinemas with girlie groups who loved the book on which it is based, can also be enjoyed in equal measure by the guys (who will no doubt be forced to take the other half anyway!).

For if last year's High Fidelity provided a frequently funny insight into the male psyche when dealing with the opposite sex, then Ms Jones's observations and embarrassments represent the flip side of the same coin and are no less enjoyable.

Indeed, first-time director Sharon Maguire's movie even has a few things to say about male bachelorhood and the battle of the sexes that are certain to raise a few eyebrows.

For anyone who doesn't know, Bridget Jones is a hopelessly paranoid 30-something singleton who is convinced that everyone else is getting it right in love except her.

Desperate to lose weight and to find the perfect love, she stumbles from one romantic mishap to another - including sleeping with her egotistical boss - and decides to get even by chronicling her woes in a diary.

Texan-born Renee Zellweger (of Jerry Maguire fame) stars as Bridget, while Hugh Grant is her playboy boss, Daniel Cleaver, and Colin Firth is Mark Darcy, a stand-offish and arrogant lawyer whose cold-hearted exterior belies a deep felt love for the accident-prone Ms Jones.

Backing them up is a first-rate script from Richard 'Four Weddings' Curtis and a wonderful support cast featuring the likes of Jim Broadbent, James Callis, Neil Pearson and - in a couple of delightful cameos - Honor Blackman, Salmon Rushdie and Jeffrey Archer. Still not convinced?

Then consider that Zellweger gives an outstanding performance as BJ, quickly dispelling any fears that a Texan could not carry off such a British role, and effortlessly easing her way into your affections.

For while she may sound irritating, Bridget manages to be funny, tragic, feisty and vulnerable all at the same time, enabling you to laugh along with her, cringe at her mishaps or sympathise during her moments of strife - never more so than when she goes through the range of emotions, breadstick in hand, while miming drunkenly along to 'All By Myself' during the opening titles.

Grant, also, is better than he's been for ages, cast against type as the bastard of the piece and displaying the sort of roguish charm not usually associated with his 'nice guy' celluloid image, while Firth is terrific fun as Darcy (and who better to play him?), the heartbroken hero whose past experiences stand in the way of him opening up to Bridget.

There are times when Bridget Jones's Diary could be accused of following an obvious path, or of under-developing some of the book's more memorable characters. It's even unashamedly romantic at times, but this is a small price to pay given the entertainment value on offer. In short, it is a feel-good classic that promises to have you laughing out loud on several occasions.

And if that still doesn't sound enticing, then surely the chance to see Grant being beaten senseless by a love rival should clinch it for you! Go and see Bridget Jones - it will undoubtedly be one of the year's most popular movies and should become one of the great British romantic comedies of all time.

 

 

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