Can you have a feminist film that revolves around a woman picking between two men? Re-watching “Bridget Jones’s Diary” shows me that it’s possible. If you haven’t yet seen this modern classic, it’s currently available on Netflix. Go home and treat yourself.
I first saw “Bridget Jones’s Diary” the year is was released – I was old enough to know (and appreciate) the “Pride and Prejudice” hints and winks, but young enough that I didn’t get the spanx underwear joke. Seriously, I had no idea what that scene was about. I remember Renee Zellwegger famously gaining weight for the role (a blog post for another time commenting on Hollywood’s treatment of female actors), making Bridget a ‘normal’ girl. But Bridget Jones is so much more than that.
Bridget worries about her weight (it’s over), her health (too much smoking and drinking), and her love life (single at 32). Yet there is so much more to her than these stereotypical (and sometimes true) traits. She has a group of friends who simultaneously support and make fun of her. She has family drama and work goals. And, of course, she has romantic entanglements with two ridiculously attractive men.
What makes “Bridget Jones” work still, to this day, is similar to how “Clueless” holds up. They took the kernels of a Jane Austen novel – her stories and strong female characters – and adjusted them into the modern world. The brick and mortar remain, but the embellishments are different. I found myself not comparing Bridget to Elizabeth Bennett (her character’s main inspiration) but rather to myself.
The only thing missing in this film is a close female friendship; Lizzie has her sister and confidant Jane, but Bridget’s friends are a trio of voices who pop up like a peanut gallery rather than a deep and healthy support system. I haven’t seen the most recent “Bridget Jones’s Baby”, but having thoroughly enjoyed the original I don’t think I’m missing much. The original (adaptation) is best.
Bechdel Test: Passes, with accents (all the better!).
To See or Not to See: A must.