Apropos of nothing, I watched Bridget Jones’s Diary last week. Afterwards, I realized that the third book in Helen Fielding’s series, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is coming out this week. So my timing was impeccable.
To provide some context, Bridget Jones’s Diary was originally published as serialized fiction in a column in The Independent in 1995. The novel form came out in 1996. And the movie version came out in 2001. So the movie is twelve years old but based on material that is eighteen years old.
1. Bridget Jones doesn’t seem to be good at anything. We can assume that she’s okay at her job in the PR department for a publishing company, but we don’t get to see her being okay at it. We get to see her talking to friends on the job and doing a stunningly bad job doing public speaking, and that’s about it.
When she gets a new job, it’s not because she’s worked hard and studied; instead, she gets hired when she confesses that she needs a new job because she shagged her boss. And even when she lands the exclusive interview that makes her career, she does so in spite of her complete ignorance of the subject and missing the shot she was supposed to get because she decided to go get cigarettes. The only reason she succeeds is because Mark Darcy decides to help her.
It’s not that I want Bridget to be perfect or super intelligent or have any social skills whatsoever. But I want to see her be good at a few things, you know?
2. Really, the reason everything works out okay in the film is because of Mark Darcy. Not only does he prevent Bridget from being sacked, he warns her about her dangerous romance with the Hugh Grant character and ends up being completely right about that too. He provides the Happily Ever After, apparently because Bridget’s many awkward social outbursts and blue soup win over his heart. They never seem to actually bond over anything, but True Love wins out in the end anyway. And he even strips meaning from the end, Bridget’s plucky run outside in the snow in only underwear and a cardigan, because it turns out he was only popping out on an errand and wasn’t actually offended by the terrible things she wrote about him in her diary.
3. The mother is portrayed as largely unsympathetic and ridiculous until she reunites with the father, at which tender moment he calls her a “daft cow.” Suddenly I had a complete picture in my mind of why she decided to leave her marriage in the first place.
4. It is possible my life is anomalous because I’ve never had almost complete strangers inquire about my love life or ask me pointed questions about why I was single. If they did, I would not feel obligated to be polite.
5. Happily, at age thirty-two I also wouldn’t feel obligated to wear terrible outfits picked out for me by my mother. Even if it was the holidays.
6. The way the film handles sexual harassment at the workplace stood out to me. Bridget wears a short skirt to work and her boss makes comments about it in a documentable form (email? IM? I can’t remember). Of course, it’s all fine because Bridget is happy to have the sexual attention from her sexy boss. I wonder if this would be portrayed the same way in a film today.
7. All this being said, Renee Zellweger does an excellent job of selling Bridget as a goofy and endearing protagonist. As long as you don’t think about any of it.
7. James Callis, who played Gaius Baltar in Battlestar Galactica, is ridiculously fun to watch as one of Bridget’s best friends. He was also ridiculously fun to watch in the recent film Austenland. I wonder if I should hunt down everything he’s been in to watch even more ridiculous fun.
What do you remember from Bridget Jones’s Diary?