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Summary: Bridget Jones’s Diary is the film of the book of the newspaper column – a romantic comedy, documenting a year in the life of a single, thirty something woman in London, played by Renée Zellweger.

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2001, UIP

Director: Sharon Maguire

Starring: Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth

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Bridget Jones’s Diary is the film of the book of the newspaper column – a romantic comedy, documenting a year in the life of a single, thirty something woman in London, played by Renée Zellweger.

It’s the beginning of the New Year for Bridget Jones, who works at a London publishing house as a marketing assistant. Determined to improve her life by losing weight, cutting down on cigarettes and alcohol and finding Mr Right, Bridget begins a diary to record her uncensored thoughts.

She starts by making a list of 33 resolutions (of which, in the end, she manages to keep only one). Bridget has two main fixations: to create the right image for herself, and to find a responsible man who will be truly committed to her, instead of just using her and leaving.

Her affections are torn between her boss, the dangerous, exciting and attractive Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) and the haughty, mysterious human-rights barrister, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). The love triangle that follows draws loose parallels with Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice.

Bridget Jones’s Diary (together with its sequel The Edge of Reason) was written by Helen Fielding, and has sold over 10 million copies in 30 countries. It was an overwhelming and instant success, capturing the plight of the contemporary woman in a remarkably familiar and endearing light.

Many people saw flashes of themselves as they followed the delightfully dysfunctional Bridget through ‘performance anxiety’ at work, ever-failing diets and her insatiable longing for love. I smiled at the one-liners, laughed at the subtle and not-so-subtle comedy and nodded in sympathy with Bridget’s all-too-familiar plight - and I’m male. Imagine the female reaction!

It was, perhaps, encouraging to find that you can be a domestic disaster, a social embarrassment, a professional no-hoper and a little overweight, and still have two handsome hunks fighting over you... But beneath the humorous surface of the film lie glimpses of real sadness. This movie successfully combines comedy and truth, but the humour masks the real emotion.

Laughter can often be an antidote to the things that make us sad. The film communicates reality, however fictional. Whether we are single or married, we can relate, to some extent, with Bridget’s frustrations. They prompt an examination of our own lives and relationships. It’s a movie that makes us realise that what - or who - is on the inside is far more important than having the perfect body, the perfect career or saying all the right things at the right time.

It is completely natural that we - both women and men - want to fall in love and get married. After all, Bridget is living out the desire that God has planted in most people to find a life’s partner. It was God (not a grumpy Adam) who declared, “It is not right for the man to be alone.” Desire for companionship is quite a legitimate need, and God recognises this.

Bridget’s desire to find a life partner who loves her is a virtue, not a flaw. It is the way she goes about it - leaving herself sexually open for exploitation - that is the problem.

The director of the movie, Sharon Maguire, suggests that ‘primarily, this film is about loneliness, dressed up as a comic anecdote.’ The theme is established from the very start, as Bridget is alone in her flat, drinking, depressed, wearing her penguin-patterned pyjamas, and listening to Jamie O’Neal’s song ‘All by Myself’. The film opens expressing this fear...

Film Clip 1

All by myself

Intense loneliness is at the root of all of Bridget’s actions.

It’s the end of a winter’s evening. Bridget Jones is alone in her flat, wearing her penguin-patterned pyjamas. A fire is struggling to stay alight in the hearth, and Frasier is coming to an end on the TV. She has a glass of red wine in one hand, a cigarette and magazine in the other. Jamie O’Neal’s song ’All by Myself’ blasts from her stereo. Her magazine doubles as an air-guitar. She checks her answer-phone: "You have no new messages", announces the electronic voice. She downs her wine, as the music soars:

"When I was young, I never needed any one

And making love was just for fun...

Those days are gone.

All by myself. Don’t wanna be all by myself, anymore."

The drums crash in, Bridget smashes a pretend kit, kicks the air and sings into her rolled up magazine. "Don’t wanna be all by myself, anymore..."

As Bridget records in her diary, ‘Loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.’ And she is not alone in thinking what she thinks. It was Emily Carr who observed, ‘You come into the world alone and you go out of this world alone. Yet it seems to me that you are more alone while living than even going and coming.’

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