When Helen Fieldings book “Bridget Jones Diary” was first published it became a phenomenon, a film adaptation was almost a certainty.
Adding Hugh Grant and Colin Firth only added fuel to the fire and once a suitable English actress could be found, box office success was a given. Fortunately Renée Zellweger although American, nailed the British accent and mannerisms. Now Zellweger “is” Bridget Jones in the public perception.
Fast forward through a less critically successful second film “Edge of Reason” and here we have the third instalment, some 15 years after the original.
Jones is now 43 and the biological clock has almost wound down, she remains single and stuck “billy no mates” on her birthday, diary entry “situation n.good”.
This time Hugh Grant is not in the cast list but Colin Firth and of course Zellweger return, adding Patrick Dempsey to create the necessary competition for Bridget’s affections.
Jones has progressed to producing a “Hard Talk” TV news show, so professionally her world is on the up. However Mum Gemma Jones, Dad Jim Broadbent and friends despair at the lack of a “significant other” and mini Bridget’s.
Following a couple of unrelated events, leading to sex protected only by Eco Friendly biodegradable condoms (is that really a thing?), Bridget is soon to be avec enfant. Who the father is, creates the ensuing comedy drama.
Bridget is as socially awkward as ever, pratfalling at a music festival in inappropriate clothes one moment, making a mess of presentations the next. Audiences/readers love her, because she is a reflection of them, aiming for perfect and falling short, way short.
The film is fun, any movie with Oscar winners Firth and Zellweger is never going to lack acting capability. Everyone looks and is much older, Dempsey coming late to the party is perhaps the weak link but does well enough. A star cameo is also thrown into the mix, which actually adds to the story for once.
The story is treated with care and respect and is surprisingly touching in parts largely due to the chemistry between Zellweger and Firth. Arguably not many laugh out loud moments but certainly a solid nights entertainment. Emma Thompson makes an appearance as the long suffering obstetrician, also helping write the screenplay with the author (not based on an actual book) and director Sharon Maguire.
Mum and Dad only get a few scenes but make them count, Firth is really Mr Darcy in a great suit but Zellweger makes the whole film work. It is difficult to imagine anyone else so suited to the role. Happy to make a fool of herself yet retaining plausible desirability.
The film makes a few missteps, the end run or drive to the hospital and set up is a bit laboured (see what we did there?) and the financial implications of her actions can only be justified by a man saving her, arguably undermining some of the themes of the books.
Fun, frothy and eminently watchable, not perfect but a good nights entertainment. It will be interesting to see if the story can stretch to a fourth, the ending suggests it might.
Personally I think this film was the best of all!