April 5, 2001

Diary of a Chick

Print More

The movie Bridget Jones’ Diary was easy and pleasant to watch. Maybe my expectations were a little too high for the movie (the film has sold out at Cornell Cinema and a lot of people I know really like the book by Helen Fielding). It takes place in present day London and focuses on the many misadventures of Bridget Jones. Bridget was definitely an interesting character, but the film was advertised as being “outrageous, funny, sexy,” etc. First of all, I find nothing outrageous about a thirty-something single woman who speaks her mind and experiences disastrous relationships — has anyone seen Sex in the City lately? Secondly, I find nothing incredible in the fact that this thirty-something decides to write a diary account of her rather ordinary and predictable experiences with men, her weight, and her life in general. Bridget Jones was a simple, enjoyable film about a strong and intelligent woman. And maybe, if it wasn’t for Zellweger’s performance, the film would sink into the oblivion of other cute date flicks.

What makes the movie extraordinary is in fact the ordinariness of its title character. Complete with an extra twenty pounds, Zellweger embodies Bridget Jones, a character with which many will be able to identify. She doesn’t look like a Hollywood star, but a normal, sometimes frumpy person. From her first scene, Zellweger captivates with her hilarious and accurate portrayal of what it’s like to be single and heading for spinsterdom. Lying on her couch alone and depressed, Bridget begins to sing to Celine Dion’s “All By Myself.” The scene is hilarious because it is so easy to relate to, and from the get-go Zellweger is totally believable as the lonely, but fearless Bridget Jones.

Unfortunately, the movie’s predictability and overall lack of plot undermines it’s good qualities. Bridget falls for her boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) and it is just too easy to foresee each step in their ill-fated relationship. I almost felt sorry for Daniel in the movie, perhaps because all the cards are stacked against him. His role as the requisite male asshole (the male character that must be present in any true “chick flick”) is believable but boring. In real life, which this movie attempts to portray, people are more complicated than one dimensional stereotypes.

Another pitfall of the movie is that it never really adequately explains the attraction between Bridget and Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), a lawyer who originally insults Bridget at a party. When Colin tells Bridget, “I like you just as you are,” the line comes off wrong because the movie hasn’t really shown why Darcy has gone from loathing Bridget to admiring her (except, of course, for a few shots of her laughing in the sun, which is supposed to somehow imply her fun loving nature and overall goodness).

Darcy apparently admires Bridget for her spunky qualities, and by this time in the movie the audience might be willing to accept the flimsy premise of his growing love for her. But, somewhere from the beginning of the movie to its end Bridget Jones goes from being a witty, realistic portrayal of one woman’s life to a whimsical love story. At one point in the movie Daniel and Colin actually fight over Bridget, breaking through glass windows in true action hero style and exchanging blows. There is something highly unbelievable about the scene, maybe because in real life Daniel would have been knocked out after Colin’s first few punches.

Ultimately, Bridget Jones is better than your average date movie, even if it does at times seem to lose its footing. I laughed throughout the film and although its ending seemed a little trite, I have to admit that I am indeed a chick and that deep down inside I like movies that are maybe a little too romantic for their own good. This is especially true if the ending involves some sort of sappiness,kiss, or cuteness of any kind. And please don’t think I’m giving away the ending. From the beginning of this movie I think you’ll pretty much know how things are going to turn out. However, the humor in the film is just dark enough and clever enough to keep it from falling into a syrupy sweet muck. Besides, English slang words are cool.

Archived article by Paula Neudorf