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Movie Reviews from the Film Gang

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Bridget Jonesís Diary, directed by Sharon Maguire - Reviewed by Carla Freccero

Now playing at the Crossroads, Northridge, State, Green Valley cinemas and at the Riverfront Theater, Bridget Jonesís Diary, directed by Sharon Maguire and based on the novel by Helen Fielding, co-written for the film by Richard Curtis, stars Renée Zelwegger as Bridget, Hugh Grant as her caddish lover cum boss, and Colin Firth.  Ah, yes, letís not forget too that Salman Rushdie and Jeffrey Archer also make cameo appearances, which sure testifies to the way this novel has gotten under the skins of the British post-empire.  

Like Sex in the City, this story was also originally a series of columns in a newspaper about a successful heterosexual career woman and her often fruitless search for love in all the wrong and right places.  Thereís something a little rougher and thus more endearing, somehow more human, about Bridget, though, something that sets her apart from the scary likes of the women in Allie McBeal and Sex in the City.  First of allóand the actress plays this wellóBridget is not anorexic, and when she worries about gaining a couple of pounds you just might be able to sympathize.  I mean can you picture groaning along with Allie as she complains of weighing in at 90 pounds on any given day?  No, Bridget is up there in the 130s, and even though youíll all agree that Zelwegger is the most deliciously voluptuous thing since Kate Winslet, at least her complaints are plausible.  The plot canít really be detailed without giving away all the nice little twists and turns, so let me just try to convince you that this is not a dumb chick flick.

It is, and emphatically so, a womenís movie.  The night I went, the audience was packed with Bridget Jonesís, and hereís where the British touch made the difference.  Those American movies about everywoman make her beautiful, rich, falsely flawed, successful, you know, put her out of the reach of most of our reasonable identifying capacities.  And they are so hopelessly narcissistic thereís no room for anyone else in their world. Not Bridget:  she smokes too much, drinks too much, eats junk food, has trouble speaking in public, dresses badly sometimes, makes big mistakes, gets depressed.  She is clumsy, awkward, angry.  She has a sharp tongue which she forgets to hold sometimes.  See what I mean?  The audience can identify.  In fact, the women were talking back to her, cheering her on, encouraging her, warning her. The only serious implausibility is that she snags the boss.  Well, and the ending is also implausible, but thatís okóit is, after all, an American movie, even though adapted from a British novel.  

The dialogue is witty, from the repartee to the voice-over, and this is what makes this fast-paced comedy romance entertaining.  It doesnít make women look stupid or vicious (something that Allie most certainly does) and although at times itís humiliating, the perspective is always empathetic.  In the long run, of course, thereís nothing really serious here, and itís still one of those stories that tells you a womanís career doesnít count as much as her biological clock (and hers seems to be ticking rather early).  But for entertainment, witty humor, and not too much dumbing down, I recommend Bridget Jonesís Diary. Youíll have fun.

Looking for trouble at the movies, for KUSP and the film gang, this is Carla Freccero.

c Carla Freccero 2001