Film Review: Bridget Jones's Diary

Updated on January 12, 2018
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Review written by: Josh Kristianto, Film Frenzy Contributing Writer.

Background

In 2001, Sharon Maguire released Bridget Jones’s Diary, based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Helen Fielding. Starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Sally Phillips, and Shirley Henderson, the film has grossed $289.1 million at the box office.

Synopsis

Single-and-looking British dirty blonde Bridget Jones finds herself on a mission for love after living out her 20s absent a proverbial Mr. Right. Begrudgingly motivated by a prodding mother and societal pressures, Jones’ quest soon pulls her into the arms of her charmingly scandalous boss. However, true love might be hidden in a more unexpected place, particularly in the affections of a most intolerable childhood friend.

Review

Bridget Jones’s Diary gets down into the nitty gritty of romance, presenting an embarrassingly unfiltered, over-the-top look into one woman’s desperation and attempt to overcome a mortifying social handicap: being 32 and single. The film has its share of savory occasions, awkward comedy, and wistful glancing that make up the pillars of any respectable romantic comedy. Yet, in the end, all these elements are neither memorable nor poignant enough to take it to the heights of passion the filmmakers were reaching for.

Still, the movie is certainly funny. Employing such elements as gawky conversations, irreverent parents, and a sarcastic lead character, the film has plenty at its disposal to make the story entertaining, which it does fairly well. The film may scream exaggeration in all corners, but does so to a point where some situations and reactions become a little too unrealistic. In some instances, it uses its set of anthemic love songs obnoxiously, while perfectly using them at other times to create humorous scenes. Further, a lot of humor is added in Jones narrating parts of her diary throughout the film. This also gives depth to the plot as her writing is full of cynicism about her own life and the people she encounters. This type of sardonic commenting gives the film its character.

While the film works hard to enrapture its audience in romantic drama, the chemistry between Jones and her two suitors, Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver, seem unremarkable at best, ruining what could have been a more satisfying tale. The predictability of the plot or the equally predictable, lackluster personalities of Cleaver and Darcy seem to provide little reason to get emotionally involved in the story. On the other hand, there is a measure of sympathy for Jones. Zellweger terrifically portrays all of her character’s contagious dorkiness and Jones’ romantic struggles and desperations make her an easy character to cheer for. Nevertheless, the audience might find themselves egged on for too long before reaching an obvious conclusion.

As for the plot, some points borrow heavily from Jane Austen’s 1813 novel. The most obvious reference is in the name Darcy. Both stories feature female lead characters initially shunned by each Darcy before becoming the object of their love. The film and novel have a less-than-honorable male love interest who turns the female against Darcy at first before they discover the truth, too. The film also borrows the novel’s pivotal moments as well, especially the time where the respective Darcy professes his true feelings of love. Fans of the novel may enjoy dissecting the similarities between the two, even if the film captures the romantic tension in a different, if not less satisfying, way.

The most prevalent theme of the film seems to be the idea of unreliable first impressions when it comes to love. The plot highlights this theme in a twofold way: first with Darcy, then with Cleaver. It succeeds in delivering the point when Jones ultimately rejects Cleaver for the more mature, principled Darcy, even if he seemed reprehensible at first. The film also does well in showing how Jones grows from being a desperate singleton who seems like she could fall for anyone to an independent woman capable of selecting the better option.

3 stars for Bridget Jones's Diary

Awards & Recognitions

bold indicates reception of award/recognition

Academy Awards

  • Best Actress in a Leading Role (Renée Zellweger)

Amanda Awards, Norway

  • Best Foreign Feature Film

BAFTA AWards

  • Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film
  • Best Screenplay - Adapted
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Renée Zellweger)
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Colin Firth)

Bogey Awards, Germany

  • Bogey Award

British Comedy Awards

  • Best Comedy Film

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Actress (Renée Zellweger)

Czech Lions

  • Best Foreign Language Film

Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Actress (Renée Zellweger)

Empire Awards, UK

  • Best British Film
  • Best Actress (Renée Zellweger)
  • Best British Actor (Hugh Grant)
  • Best Debut (Sharon Maguire)

European Film Awards

  • Audience Award - Best European Actor (Colin Firth)
  • European Film

Evening Standard British Film Awards

  • Best Screenplay
  • Peter Sellers Award for Comedy (Hugh Grant)

Golden Globe Awards

  • Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical (Renée Zellweger)

Golden Schmoes Awards

  • Best Actress of the Year (Renée Zellweger)

Golden Screen, Germany

  • Golden Screen

Golden Trailer Awards

  • Best Comedy
  • Best Foreign

Goya Awards

  • Best European Film

Grammy Awards

  • Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media

London Critics Circle - ALFS Awards

  • British Screenwriter of the Year

MTV Movie + TV Awards

  • Best Kiss (Renée Zellweger & Colin Firth)

Satellite Awards

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical (Renée Zellweger)
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical (Colin Firth)
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical (Hugh Grant)
  • Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (Renéee Zellweger)

Teen Choice AWards

  • Film - Choice Chemistry (Hugh Grant & Renée Zellweger)

USC Scripter Awards

  • USC Scripter Award

World Soundtrack Awards

  • Best Original Score of the Year Not Released on an Album

Writers Guild of America, USA

  • Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

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    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 7 weeks ago from Norfolk, England

      I've never seen this! It's certainly won a lot of awards.

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