Film review: Bridget Jones is back on form and finally in control ... sort of
Bridget Jones’s Baby
Director: Sharon Maguire
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson
Renée Zellweger is as charming as ever in Bridget Jones’s Baby, which marks a lively return to form for the unlikely trilogy about an ordinary woman and her professional and romantic woes.
It turns out a little break is just what this series needed to find its footing, after the manic missteps of 2004’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which fell into some of the all-too common traps of sequels looking to up the stakes (the Thailand prison sequence, for example).
That’s probably due, in part at least, to the fact that Sharon Maguire, who directed the practically perfect Bridget Jones’s Diary, is back (Beeban Kidron directed the second), working from a script co-written by author Helen Fielding, Emma Thompson (who is also very funny on screen as an unamused doctor) and Dan Mazer.
Let us get over the silly fact that this movie essentially had to press reboot on the happy ending of the second film, when Bridget said how even at 33 she was able to find love and happiness with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). Twelve years later, she is in her 40s and he has gone off and married someone else.
But this is an evolved Bridget. Sure, she might be eating dessert alone in that same old London flat on that same old couch listening to the same old Celine Dion song, but it’s not tragic. It just is. Her friends all bailed on her and so she has a night on her own. The sense is “whatever”, not “woe is me”.
In fact, her life looks pretty good. She is now a high-profile TV news producer and seems happy at work – gone are the fireman’s-pole humiliations of on-camera life. She’s also fitter (and happy about it) and has a fancier wardrobe befitting her success.
When her younger friend and co-worker Miranda (a terrific Sarah Solemani) invites her to a weekend getaway, Bridget arrives at the airport looking like a Nancy Meyers leading lady in cream and white. Of course, she doesn’t realise they’re going to an outdoor music festival. Predictably, she falls in some mud – but also attracts the attention of Jack (Patrick Dempsey), a single relationship guru (but not one of the sleazy kind) who is immediately smitten with Bridget. They spend some time together and then go their separate ways.
A few weeks later, she finds herself having an unexpectedly romantic encounter with the now-separated Darcy. She walks away from that, too, and life goes on – until she discover that she’s pregnant. But who is the father? Both men rise to the challenge, trying to out-partner one another at every turn.
Much of the original cast returns and are wonderful (including Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Sally Phillips and Shirley Henderson), save for a sorely missed Hugh Grant. You will, however, find out why his character, Daniel Cleaver, is absent. There is still a madcap, slapstick jitteriness to dear Bridget, but a calmness has descended, too – that of a woman who has finally grown into her own skin. She is messy in that way women in other romcoms say they are but never actually are. And she is certainly not like that other single gal of her time, Carrie Bradshaw, who seemed to become less and less relatable as the years went by.
Though the premise of Bridget Jones’s Baby makes it all seem like it’s all about the guy again, it has never felt so much like Bridget’s story. The man is just gravy.
This movie, for all its comedic ridiculousness and wild circumstance of the paternity crisis, is a jubilant celebration of women. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to check in with Bridget again in another few years.
• Bridget Jones’s Baby is in cinemas now
Published: September 14, 2016 04:00 AM