It’s almost the start of a New Year, and I don’t know about you, Wanderers, but to me that means New Year’s Resolutions. Not even necessarily mine – I tend to take the pragmatic approach of deciding that if I don’t make any, I can’t break any, and therefore won’t start the year feeling bad about myself – but there’s always someone around me who declares that this year, starting right now, their life is going to change. They are going to lose weight, they are going to quit smoking, they’ll get a job they like more or do better at the one they have. They’re going to fall in love – with someone who actually deserves them, this time.
Small wonder, then, that so many of us usher in the New Year by curling up on the sofa to watch Bridget Jones’ Diary, the 2001 film starring Renée Zellweger as Bridget herself. Based on Helen Fielding’s novel of the same name, the film follows Bridget on her mission to lose weight, quit smoking, and bag Mr Right. See? I told you they were common ones. It’s easy to sympathise with Bridget’s struggles, especially as she keeps a faithful journal of her misadventures.
Of course, it’s not just Bridget. As with any person, she’s brought into contact with a variety of people in the course of her everyday business. Her parents’ New Year party, for example, brings her back into contact with a childhood acquaintance – Mark Darcy, played by Colin Firth (and one day, that will stop being funny, but it is not this day). A high-achieving barrister, it seems likely that her parents wouldn’t be too upset if the son of their friends got together with Bridget, but they get off to a bad start, as documented in Bridget’s diary, of course.
New Year being over, Bridget returns to her work at a publishing company. Since her boss, Daniel, is played by Hugh Grant, she obviously has a massive crush on him. Well, she’s human, after all. They get a little flirty by email, despite her knowing his reputation for womanising, and… well, if I told you any more I’d defeat the object of watching the film, if you’re one of the very few people who’ve never seen it. Suffice to say that between Mark and Daniel, there’s enough drama in Bridget’s life to keep her going for a year – even without adding the fact that she’s a bit accident prone and still trying to lose weight.
I’m not going to try to pretend this film is going to completely shift your worldview, because it’s not. Honestly, at this time of year, you’re already probably trying to do that for yourself, and good luck to you. What it will do is keep you entertained, give you a few laughs, and sweep you up in someone else’s problems for a while. Moreover, if you’re not from the UK and happen to be one of those people with a huge fascination for the place, this film is about as ‘British’ as it could get while still featuring Renée Zellweger. If you are from the UK, you’ll see what I mean.
Additionally, pointing out that you’re so much less clumsy/more responsible than Bridget is a great way to deflect your older relatives from asking if you’ve found someone nice to settle down with yet, or when they can expect the pitter-patter of tiny feet if you do have even the slightest hint of a date. Yes, my family does that too. So does Bridget’s. And I suppose that’s why the film’s so fun to watch; we know what it’s like to be Bridget Jones, at least a little bit. We’re rooting for her. And I’d like to think that, if she existed, Bridget would root for us too.
Eleanor Musgrove (whose resolution of 2004, funnily enough, was to keep a diary. It lasted almost three weeks.)