A frumpy Renée Zellweger charms in the witty romantic comedy Bridget Jones’s Diary
Renée Zellweger throws herself unabashedly into playing a randy, smart-mouthed, semi-frumpy klutz, the title role in Bridget Jones’s Diary. Her Bridget is clumsy, reckless, mildly rowdy and glowing with charm and impudent persistence. That alone nearly assures the success of Sharon Maguire’s film as comic entertainment.
But there’s even more fun than that. Maguire’s adaptation of Helen Fielding’s best-selling novel (co-scripted by Fielding and two others) has comic zip in all the key elements—pace, repartee, character twists—and Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, both cast somewhat against type, do fine characterizations of the two competing male objects of Bridget’s attention, affectionate and otherwise.
There are other strands of interest as well, including some knowingly satirical glimpses of the publishing and television businesses, an edgy subplot involving the marital woes of Bridget’s parents (played as affectionate caricatures by Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones), and a shrewd, funny sense of 30-somethings still in the hunt for marriage or romance or both.
Frazzled beauty and lumpy romance probably haven’t looked this good in the movies since Lynn Redgrave did Georgy Girl back on the far side of the Swinging Sixties. And the rumpled romantic appeal extends into the frayed suaveness and subtle menace in Grant’s publishing executive and the clotted, reluctant warmth of Firth’s stoically discombobulated barrister. And Bridget’s mother’s affair with a foufy Shopping Channel guy adds pathos and perspective to the playing out of the triumphs and failures in Bridget’s still-youthful love life.
All in all, it’s a fanciful romantic comedy with a charming grittiness to it and more than a little in the way of sharp, amusing wit. And for all its nifty comic dialogue, the film also has the benefit of some quietly hilarious directorial touches from Maguire.