This is about to be a long feminist rant about Bridget Jones’s Diary, so if that’s not your jam, go read a different review
Release date: April 13, 2001
Director: Sharon Maguire
Who should watch this movie: People who actually enjoy Katherine Heigl’s filmography. Folks who do a yearly re-watch of the BBC Pride and Prejudice.
When should you watch this movie: When you need a pallet cleanser after watching something dark/disturbing. Not after watching Eyes Wide Shut though, the combo is weird and the similarities jump out a little too easily – trust me, it’s weird.
The sell: Bridget Jones’s Diary sits comfortably in the pantheon of romcoms, uncontested as a classic and widely beloved by film-goers across generations. My question is: Why though? Bridget Jones’s Diary is neither romantic, nor particularly funny. The titular character is motivated entirely by men’s opinions of her. Even her admirable dedication to self improvement is fueled by an assumed preeminence of male desire. Certainly, Bridget is charming and intelligent – characteristics the film attempts vainly to cover up with clumsy behavior and a few public gaffs, but there’s just no covering up Renée Zellweger, so thank god for that – but not once in the film does she or anyone else consider the possibility that being single isn’t a character flaw. It is a universally accepted truth within the film, that being single is something shameful and that a person who is single has only their own shortcomings to blame. This message makes the “happy ending” all the more confusing. The triumphant resolution -i.e. Bridget has found a man who “loves her the way she is” – is both confirmation that she is “enough” on her own and confirmation that she is only now “enough” because a man loves her. Is the moral of the story simply that messy, awkward, women can be desirable and/or deserving of love? If that is in fact the case, how disappointing then that such a concept be so revelatory. And don’t get me started on the spurious conflation of desirability and love. This whole film is built on fallacious notions of romance and dull imaginings of women’s interiority. There may be a hint of entertainment value in watching Colin Firth reprise his role as Mr. Darcy in a modern setting, but honestly, the stiff (let’s be real, it’s bland) performance works better in the late 18th century and should stay there. In fact, the whole movie should just stay in the 18th century where it belongs.