Bridget Jones’s Diary
“Nobody Gets Fired for Shagging the Boss”By Pey-Hua Hwang
Directed by Sharon Maguire
Written by Richard Curtis and Andrew Davies
Starring RenÉe Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant.
Bridget Jones’s Diary is what one would call a quirky romantic comedy. Directed by Sharon Maguire (this is her first feature film), and based on Helen Fielding’s best-selling novel of the same name, this movie deals with the obstacles and opportunities placed before Bridget Jones (RenÉe Zellweger). Pulling off a decent English accent, and gaining 20 pounds for the part, Zellweger plays a chocoholic, alcoholic, publicity spokeswoman and television reporter with a propensity for saying whatever comes to mind without considering the consequences.
The movie is not entirely true to the contents of the book, but it does capture the spirit. The movie spans a year in Jones’s life and opens with her mother’s annual turkey curry buffet party. Here is where the audience first gets to the question that is the bane of Jones’s world: “So, how’s your love life?”
Zellweger gives Jones a wonderful emotional transparency without plunging her into the trap of the stereotypical dumb blonde. Her best performance, however, is given during a dinner party thrown by one of Bridget’s “smug-married” friends, when she confronts Mark Darcey (Colin Firth). The memorable refrain is her mentioning that he needn’t always try to make her feel badly as she does quite well herself. Her acting in this scene promotes empathy without overstepping into the realm of self-pity. Darcey’s reaction is priceless.
Hugh Grant, playing Daniel Cleaver, moves away from the clueless romantics he usually plays and is fun to watch. As Jones’s boss, he becomes the smooth talking embodiment of everything Jones resolves must not be in the man for her.
Colin Firth also fills his role well as the straight-laced Mark Darcy. His experience in Mr. Darcy in the acclaimed 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, is also evident as he shows emotion through subtle facial quirks instead of words.
Some of the best scenes in the movie are confrontations between Darcy and Cleaver, where Bridget, having being misled by Cleaver early on, completely misinterprets the cause of their antagonism. The sole fight scene (which is intentionally prissy) is also a complete departure from the book, but is positively hilarious and even includes a token crash through a window. Some of Bridget’s commentary on the current status of her life and on the various people in it is also very amusing.
Unfortunately, Bridget’s support group of friends, who have their own personalities and unique spins in the novel, are not given full exposure in the movie. They seem to exist merely to comfort Bridget everytime her love life takes a turn for the worst. However, James Callis, who plays Bridget’s gay friend Tom, is able to steal a scene here and there with a perfectly-timed wry line.
Besides the tempestuous love connections, the movie highlights several sub-plots. The main subplot involves Bridget’s attempts to find a new job. Her attempts at sounding accomplished and righteous fail over and over. As she finally gives up and says that she lost her old job because she, “shagged the boss,” she gets hired as her new boss side-bars, “Nobody gets fired for shagging the boss.” Subsequent disasters occur as she is taped from utterly the wrong angle sliding down a fire pole in a miniskirt and misses an interview when getting snacks for her camera crew. The latter incident, however, presents the perfect opportunity for Darcy (the lawyer of the person she was trying to interview) to save the day.
Even Bridget’s home life refuses to remain stable. Her mother runs away with a fast talking telemarketer leaving her father broken-hearted. These sub-plots come together with the main storyline to deliver an unusually happy ending.