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79 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Endearing Performance By Zellweger, April 24, 2001
Dissatisfied at age 32 with the direction her life is taking, a young woman vows to make some changes, and to keep herself on track she decides to start a daily journal, hoping it will make her toe the line, in "Bridget Jones's Diary," directed by Sharon Maguire and starring Renee Zellweger. Bridget (Zellweger) begins with some New Year's resolutions that include no more drinking or smoking, not being paranoid about her weight, and developing poise. And-- last, but not least-- to avoid any romantic attachments to alcoholics, workaholics, peeping Toms or perverts. Of course she promptly falls for the one man she knows who embodies all of those characteristics: Her boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant). In the meantime, her mother, Pam (Gemma Jones), continues to play matchmaker for her daughter. At a holiday gathering of friends and family, Pam nudges her in the direction of an old childhood chum, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), now a respectable attorney, and recently divorced. Their initial meeting, however, proves to be a less than monumental event, further complicated by the fact that Cleaver was Darcy's Best Man at his wedding, and has some tales-out-of-school to tell about the subsequently ill fated marriage that puts Darcy in a rather bad light. But Bridget could care less; she thinks Darcy is rude and a bore, and anyway, Daniel is her guy. Work is good, her life is going well and-- as she is about to wake up and realize-- she hasn't kept a single one of her resolutions. And, oh! she should have.
First time director Maguire proves with this auspicious debut that she certainly knows her territory and how to negotiate it. She has the touch and the eye for detail of a seasoned professional, and her sense of timing is impeccable. She successfully avoids a major pitfall that do in many rookie directors right out of the chute, by never fishing for the cheap, forced, disdainfully pretentious or concocted laugh. Everything in this film, especially the humor, flows freely and naturally from the circumstances of the characters and the story, which makes it all real and believable and allows it to be readily embraced by the audience. This is a funny, often hilarious movie, but it's also very warm and at times poignant, and for handling it so sensibly, and with such sensitivity, Maguire deserves to be granted even more kudos. It's quite simply an exceptionally well made film, presented with a style and grace that reflects that of the director herself.
Of course, having a superlative leading lady was certainly not disadvantageous to Maguire's efforts, either, and Renee Zellweger has never been better than she is here as Bridget. With her quirky good looks, personality and charisma, she is endearing, and she invades Meryl Streep territory by affecting a perfect British accent. Whether she's lip-syncing to a Celine Dion song, doing karaoke at an office party after having a bit too much to drink, or battling with a blender, it's easy to believe that someone would like her just the way she is. Even with her hair mussed, or in a somewhat disheveled state, she's alluring, and it all has to do with who she is deep down inside; Zellweger makes it clear that this is a woman of substance, and it's easy to like her. There's a down-to-earth honesty and accessibility about her that makes her appealing, and she's someone to whom many in the audience are easily going to be able to relate. For her portrayal of Betty in "Nurse Betty," Zellweger received a Golden Globe; "Bridget" should land her smack in the middle of Oscar territory.
As Bridget's smarmy boss, Daniel, Hugh Grant turns in a noteworthy performance, putting a rather tarnished sheen on his natural charm that works so well for this character. It's a nice departure from his usual bumbling, reserved Mr. Nice Guy routine he perfected in such films as "Notting Hill," and "Four Weddings and A Funeral." With this role he challenges Greg Kinnear's part in "Someone Like You" for the top spot in the Boss-You-Should-Never-Date category. And Firth does a memorable turn as Darcy, fairly reprising his role of the same name in the PBS miniseries, "Pride and Prejudice," from which this story is loosely derived. Initially appearing a bit sullen, he gets the chance to develop his character as the story unfolds, and he does it quite nicely, ultimately revealing Darcy's true nature.
In a supporting role, Gemma Jones gives a performance that deserves mention, doing a good job of fleshing out Bridget's mother in the brief time she is allotted. Rounding out the supporting cast are Crispin Bonham-Carter (Greg), Jim Broadbent (Colin Jones), James Callis (Tom), Sally Phillips (Shazzer), Honor Blackman (Penny), Embeth Davidtz (Natasha), Shirley Henderson (Jude) and Celia Imrie (Una). A warmly humorous, uplifting film, "Bridget Jones's Diary" is a delightful and satisfying experience with more than a touch of magic in it. Not only is it an entertaining showcase for Zellweger's many talents, but heralds the arrival of a director from whom we can expect great things in the future, Sharon Maguire. A well crafted, reality based comedy/drama that is enjoyable and refreshingly devoid of inane nonsense or gross jokes is a rare find these days, and this is one of the best to hit the screen in a long, long time. It's a film to be heartily embraced, and one I guarantee you'll want to see more than once.
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Initial post: Mar 12, 2008 2:02:16 PM PDT
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I want to know if this DVD has captions
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