All roads lead back to Jane Austen. I have Jane Austen to credit for my love of Bridget Jones Diary. I got into Jane Austen as a kid, and then had to read the Pride and Prejudice for summer reading in high school. The book fascinated my friends and I so much we watched the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (aka, the best movie adaptions of Pride and Prejudice for Austen fans). Like others, my friends and I fell in love with Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy. He was mysterious, handsome, and more caring than people gave him credit. Colin Firth’s Darcy performance took on an iconic status for many. He definitely became the star of my friends’ and my Hollywood must see actors. So naturally, when we heard about his starring role in Bridget Jones’s Diary, we had to see him, even if his role in the movie was very similar to his role in Pride and Prejudice. In fact, the whole film was exactly like Pride and Prejudice, except adapted to modern sensibilities with the humor and a more relatable (albeit clumsy) heroine.
Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Mark Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett.
I loved Bridget Jones (played by Renee Zellweger) from the beginning, independent from my feelings from Pride and Prejudice. During my first what of the movie, I loved that the heroine was clumsy and wasn’t that polished. Hollywood tends to glamorize the heroines, and Bridget Jones was the first heroine whose flaws were open and acceptable. In addition, she was the first heroine I had seen in which the man liked her from the beginning based on her flaws, and not on an idealized “perfect” version. Too many romantic movies always show the guy falling in love with the woman based on some imagined version on the woman’s perfection. The reality is that when two people fall in love, they fall in love with both the good qualities but also accept the flaws. This is what made the Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and the Bridget Jones romance noteworthy and celebratory. Below is a clip that best exemplifies this (and my most favorite scene of any rom-com).
I recently watched the third movie in the Bridget Jones series (Bridget Jones’s Baby), released 15 years after the original movie and 10 years after the horrible second movie. The second movie was really awful (sequels on fantastic first movies usually are), so I was skeptical about the third movie and any need for it. The third movie exceeded my expectations. Not only did the movie stay true to the Bridget Jones character even after she was older, it also had some great humor and relatable situations regarding loneliness while everyone but you is married and why couples break up. Also, the chemistry between Zellweger and Firth was still there fifteen years later. You were still rooting for them despite their differences.
Source: Miramax Films
Watching Bridget Jones’s Baby inspired me to watch the original movie again. I found myself noticing new things that I hadn’t noticed in my initial watching. I had first watched the movie when I was 18. Though I have re-watched it a few times since, my recent re-watch was the first time I was watching it at the exact age Bridget Jones is during the movie. Watching the movie the same age as Bridget Jones is a different experience than watching it when you are younger. For one thing, when I watched it at 18, I always found Bridget Jones to be clumsy and misunderstood. When I re-watched it now, I better appreciated Bridget Jones humor and great personality. In her first scene with Mark Darcy, I didn’t think Bridget was awkward at all (unlike when I was eighteen, and cringed on her behalf). She was trying to make a joke and it was Mark Darcy was the awkward one with no humor.
Source: Miramax Film
I also framed Bridget Jones relationship issues in a different matter than when I was 18 to now. In my first watch, I felt sorry for her for being alone. When I re-watched the movie, I didn’t feel as sorry for her. Sure, she was single. However, she had caring friends who supported her and provided a great time. Her apartment was cozy. She also had two highly visibly and competitive jobs in interesting industries book publishing and the media. She had a full life, something I missed in my first time watching. I was too focused on the multiple times Bridget Jones was rejected – first by Mark Darcy, then by Daniel Cleaver- to see the positive stuff in her life.
Another thing I noticed in my recent re-watch is that Mark Darcy needs Bridget more than the other way around. Bridget has this fun life with her friends –even though she may be lonely at times without a boyfriend. Mark Darcy, in contrast, has a hard time expressing emotions and doesn’t ever seem to be having much fun whenever the viewers see him. Bridget brings out the joy in Mark more than the other way around. While Bridget benefited from his companionship, she was also quite a catch herself.
All the new things I noticed in Bridget Jones made me love the movie more and why it really is a perfect tribute to single women. It embraces how women really are, and shows that single women don’t necessarily need relationships to have a joyous life.