When life gives you lemons, chop those up, get your secret stash of booze and drink to your heart’s desire. As the film welcomes us to Bridget Jones crying, drinking an ungodly amount of wine, binge-watching Frasier and lip-syncing to Jamie O’Neal’s “All by Myself”, it reminds its audience of memories of their lowest times, when they’re on the brink of hitting rock bottom. It relishes memories of evenings spent in tattered pajamas and greasy take-outs, and midnights taken away by self-deprecating thoughts. This is Bridget Jones’s Diary.
18 years after its premiere in 2001, Bridget Jones’s Diary still holds a momentous title in the world of romantic comedies. Its charm, the timeless chemistry between its characters and its relatable lead serve as a platform for great storytelling.
When Renée Zellweger was cast as Bridget, there was an uproar about her nationality, her lack of appropriate accent, and most believed she didn’t resemble a 30-something-year-old British protagonist. But Zellweger proved the media wrong and showcased a fantastic interpretation of the character, bringing her Academy and BAFTA nominations.
Bridget Jones represents middle-class working women struggling with body insecurities, overly dramatic familial ties, and an absence of romantic affiliations. Jones does not shy away from being the clumsy, awkward, judgmental, and foul-mouthed person that she is. Instead, she embraces her own characteristics and is unapologetic in her actions. She is far from perfection. She knows her flaws and tries to overcome them to the best of her abilities.
One thing that Bridget wants to have in her life is a boyfriend. Her finding love is a major driving point of this movie. Here, we are introduced to her first love interest, Hugh Grant’s Daniel Cleaver, your quintessential British bad boy with nice shiny hair, billowy shirts, sharp wit, and nice smile that got her fanning over him in seconds. But from the get-go we know he’s not the one for Bridget. He’s manipulative, a cheater, a liar and basically everything you don’t want in a partner. With his time with her, we understand her burning desire for romance. She became easily influenced by Cleaver’s words prompting her misunderstanding with Mark Darcy. She got so overwhelmed by the feeling of being wanted that she forgot how dismissive Cleaver is towards commitment.
But then we have Mark Darcy played by Colin Firth. If there is an actor crowned as the king of broodiness, Firth would unanimously win. The man perfectly executes the art of longing stares and unspoken signs of affection. Due to lack of proper and civil conversation between him and Bridget, Bridget harbored hatred towards him that was eventually addressed and easily resolved towards the end.
However, this is not only about Bridget’s quest for romantic love. This movie is still about her and her life. The film discusses her efforts to reduce her weight, improve her health, quit smoking, and prioritize herself and her well-being. Even though one might think that Bridget became a slave to her desires, she still chose to stand for herself and show her conviction as a character. As demonstrated, when she quit her job and dumped Cleaver when she realized she deserved someone better. She got herself a position in a news channel and began to establish a career for herself, albeit its imperfect and rough start.
Another thing that is great about this film is how it tackled the inevitable loneliness that comes with time. Bridget doesn’t want to end up alone and a spinster. Daniel Clevear resorts to being with different women to absolve the loneliness and his fear of a real relationship. Mark Darcy copes with his wife leaving him for Daniel. Bridget’s mom finding affection from another person because she felt neglected and alone with Bridget’s dad and him, dealing with her wife leaving for another man. This is the many facets of loneliness the movie conveys.
In the end, Bridget Jones is still awkward, clumsy and on the verge of being an alcoholic. But she attempts to get better and find the love she wants and deserves. She’s imperfect but she’s not afraid to try.
Bridget Jones’s Diary is bathed in catchy pop songs, charming smirks, cringe-worthy scenarios, and comedic gestures but it also manifests a powerful message about self-empowerment, to seek love and contentment, and make mistakes along the way.