music friday: "all by myself"
what i watched last week

film fatales #13: bridget jones's diary (sharon maguire, 2001)

I wrote about this for the most recent “Music Friday” post. Here is the main portion that dealt with the movie:

In the mid-1990s, English novelist Helen Fielding began writing a serialized newspaper column about a single woman in her 30s working her way through life in London. This column was popular enough for Fielding to construct a novel from them, called Bridget Jones’s Diary. Fielding’s work was compared to Nick Hornby’s, the chick lit to his lad lit. Her book was popular enough to elicit a sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which wasn’t as good, although it had its moments.

Next up was a film version of Diary. This movie, starring Renée Zellweger as Bridget, was eagerly anticipated by fans of the book, although British fans were upset that an American was playing the English icon. (Zellweger was excellent, grabbing a Best Actress Oscar nomination.) The question was, could the movie capture the blend of self-awareness and humorous honesty that made the book a good read.

I just watched Bridget Jones’s Diary ... I think for the third time ... because it celebrated its 15th anniversary this week. It still holds up as an example of a good rom-com.

It’s interesting to think of the movie in the context of “film fatales”. To some extent, I’m stretching the category ... I don’t know how many women filmmakers were inspired by Bridget Jones’s Diary, and director Sharon Maguire hasn’t done a lot since. She began in television ... Bridget Jones’s was her first feature ... and she didn’t direct another feature for seven years, even though Bridget did very well at the box office. She didn’t work on the inevitable sequel (although she has directed the third film in the series, which is scheduled to come out later this year). Her only other feature was Incendiary, which was poorly received.

But as a manifestation of Fielding’s place in contemporary literature, Bridget Jones’s Diary is a fine companion piece, which some thought was better than the novel. A successful film, based on a novel by a woman, directed by a woman, with an Oscar-nominated performance by a woman ... I’m going to place in within my Film Fatales. #868 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century. 7/10.

(Explanation of the Film Fatales Series.)

Comments

Diana

I read Bridget Jones' Diary while I was travelling on my own in England (before the period when I actually lived in the UK). I was trying to match my travel literature with my destinations (I read Angela's Ashes while I was in Ireland, can't quite remember if there was a book matched to the France/Netherlands leg). It's an adorable read not the least for the fact it is a not-very-subtle homage to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, with Bridget as a modern-day Eliza, her mother as Lydia, Daniel as Wickham, and Darcy as... well, Darcy. I loved the movie for the Colin Firth casting (even though I've never seen his version of P&P) and I don't think I've ever thought Zellweger more beautiful than when she was rocking the Bridget curves.

Steven Rubio

I definitely agree about those curves. Don't know if you ever read the sequel (or saw the movie) ... it's not worth the trouble, to be honest. But the best scene has Bridget interviewing Colin Firth. I looked forward to seeing how they dealt with that in the movie version (hint: they left it out).

Diana

I did read the sequel and wonder how the film adaptation would manage that interview. I seem to remember that they planned on having her interview a "big American star" and played with the idea of George Clooney but Zellweger nixed it because she and Clooney had a romantic history. I guess they just cut the scene altogether rather than risk a shoddy shadow of the book. I didn't love the sequel, honestly. Wasn't really motivated to watch the movie.

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