Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Bridget Jones’s Diary



USA/UK 2001
director : Sharon Maguire
script : Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies, Richard Curtis (based on novel by Fielding)
cinematography : Stuart Dryburgh
editing : Martin Walsh
lead actors : Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Gemma Jones
92 minutes

Movies don’t simultaneously top the US and UK by being in any way original or challenging, and Bridget Jones could never be accused of breaking new ground. It’s a well-meaning, brisk, surprisingly basic romantic comedy in which our chubby thirtysomething heroine (Zellweger) has to choose between gloomy Firth and floppy-haired egomaniac Grant, while obsessing over her figure, weight, diet, lovelife, face, etc.

It’s easy to attack Maguire’s TV-standard direction, the essential complacency of the old-fashioned script, and the ham-fisted girl-power soundtrack. But, as in Nurse Betty, the irresistably appealing Zellweger comes up trumps, working wonders with what could easily have been a gratingly obnoxious character. Although her accent takes a little getting used to at first, by the end it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in the title role (though Toni Collette would surely have given it a decent stab). Casting directors are so often the unsung stars of the movie world, so hats off to Michelle Guish. All the performers, from Zellweger right on down to cameos, are conspicuously well-chosen, with Patrick Barlow especially welcome as a QVC-style jewellery show’s slimy host. He’s a blast of caricatured excess in a movie that too often feels like a bland, over-extended sitcom.

23rd May, 2001

by Neil Young