England’s most famous tragic spinster and diarist of the modern age Bridget Jones has a lot to answer for. Since 1996 when she was born of the imagination of English writer Helen Fielding, her endearing reflections on life when recording all her innermost thoughts, including embracing ‘scary stomach-holding-in pants’, has meant she unwittingly offered support to all women, young or otherwise, of her age.
Bridget Jones has wonderful vulnerability, a heart of gold and loves a good joke. She was 30 something when we first met her; she behaved badly, didn’t worry that she had ample curves, drank too much Chardonnay, smoked too much and ate too much, but still managed to have two handsome men that every other woman in the world fancied in their beds, battling for her attention.
Watching her as brought brilliantly to the silver screen by the versatile American born actor Renée Zellwegger who has now been totally adopted by Britain in her first two movies Bridget Jones Diary 2001 and Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason 2004, made for women feeling as if they were in cringe territory, one easily recognisable to a point it made us squirm on our seats. And we loved it.
The boys loved it too, watching their modern day Prince Charming counterparts portrayed by Hugh Grant as Bridget’s dishy cardboard cut out but charming boss Daniel Cleaver, whose morals were skin deep and sincerity lacking, who was to be compared to the very earnest human rights lawyer Colin Firth, whose character name Mr. Darcy said it all.
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen’s greatest novel had been reinvented for television at the time, with English actor Colin Firth proving super swoon worthy as Mr Darcy on every continent of the planet.
He brought author Helen Fielding and all the 30+ women of the new age to their knees as they binged out on the TV series over and over again. Romance was born again.
The first two Bridget Jones movies came out of the age where finally the feminism aim of women of my age had allowed women of her age not only control of their own bodies but also an ability to make choices for themselves.
At last, they had the chance to realize their wishes and dreams. However having attained that pinnacle they found it was scary on the top of the hill. So very often it was fear of the unknown that held them back, plus the fear of being alone.
It was the age of self-fulfilling prophecy at its height.
In her new movie Bridget Jones’s Baby we meet the lady herself again on the day she is turning 43 when reality is hitting hard. Our Bridget is at home alone in her comfy cozy apartment with a single cupcake and a single candle. She’s also ‘jumping around’ so we know it’s not going as well as she would like at all.
Fear of failure it seems has won out after all and doing nothing and not taking any personal risks has proved quite debilitating. How can she get out of the rut and routine of life she now finds herself embracing?
Don’t read any more if you don’t want to encounter spoilers.
A whole decade has passed since we last encountered Bridget Jones and a great deal has happened. She’s slimmed down, given up fags and her modern day Mr Mark Darcy has, after five years of inactivity with her and more worried about his society image than his heart, married someone else. Goodness, she’s called Camilla! Isn’t that slightly inappropriate…
… reminder to myself diary, I shouldn’t laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Daniel Cleaver is missing believed dead in an Amazonian jungle and a merry memorial service for him provides an opportunity for Bridget to see Darcy and enjoy much light relief, as every super model on the planet present recognises one of his most famous ‘lines’ quoted in his eulogy.
Bridget while being amused at this turn of events, and having made a sincere statement about their friendship at the funeral, is once again at home alone after it all finding her own life is now in static mode.
All her old friends are still around, although they all paired off and married with kids. Basically they have turned into those people they used to despise, so excuses of why they are not celebrating the day of her birth with her are rife.
Her slightly bi polar madcap Mom (Gemma Jones) is running for Mayor of the local council, giving her Dad (Jim Broadbent) a torrid task in keeping up as she battles for high office based on 50’s ideals.
Bridget and her workplace bestie madcap Miranda (Sarah Solemani) from the TV station where they both work on ‘current affairs’, reminisce often.
Bridget works as a producer behind the camera with Miranda up front in the hot seat, and after reflecting on their current situation, they decide to get out of town together for a great weekend away.
They are both aware their lives basically ‘suck’ and that they both need to expand their horizons. However, they do not end up at a health spa by the sea as Bridget had thought and dressed for, because the marvellous Miranda has other ideas.
She takes Bridget outside her comfort zone completely to hang out at one of those famous annual rock music festivals (Glastonbury) held in a muddy field in the English countryside, where you live onsite in a Yurt, take selfie’s with stars you don’t recognize, while dancing wildly to Ed Sheeran music.
It’s also the perfect place to let it all ‘hang out’ and engage in sexual escapades with the first man you meet, which Miranda dares Bridget to do.
Dressed entirely inappropriately in all white and wearing high heels, Bridget now met morphs into a modern day Cinderella by falling face first into the mud, where she also loses one of her shoes.
But wait, all is not lost! Prince Charming or should we call him McDreamy is on hand and comes to her aid.
Jack (Patrick Dempsey) is a modern day American relationship website millionaire, who while match making everyone else happy by using his highly advanced logarithm, seems to spend his life alone, playing the field.
In reflection, he thinks it’s not a bad life after all, no strings attached. Well at least until he meets Bridget Jones.
How can anyone prepare for meeting a woman whose range of kinky boots and shoes are an integral part of her endearing personality
As he is the first man Bridget has met at the festival, and having danced too much and drunk too much yet again, our delightful Cinders stumbles mistakenly into Prince Charming’s Yurt, which is much nicer than her own as she notes, and stays the night.
Well doesn’t everyone! After all, this is 2016. Note to diary, I am not a slut!
Next morning waking alone Bridget leaves before Jack arrives back with breakfast for two in hand, finding himself feeling disappointed, a new emotion he hasn’t really felt before. What is that called?
Back in London and behind the scenes on the morning show where she is the producer, Bridget is feeling upset with her actions after the event.
During the next week she encounters Mr Darcy again, after years of not seeing each other, meeting twice is heart wrenching. Miranda is interviewing him on the show, because he’s involved in another high profile and wacky human rights case they are reporting on.
Awkward… well at first anyway, but then she runs into him yet again and he’s all vulnerable, Camilla having left him high and dry after five years of marriage. So what’s a girl to do when you come face to face with the man that deep down you have always loved, but offer him comfort.
However that decade old packet of condoms in her bag turns out to be no help at all, especially when after weeks of feeling worse for wear in the mornings, she finds out she’s pregnant.
Feeling spaced out at first, Bridget starts to warm to the idea of a small person to share her life and so she decides to keep the baby, despite not knowing which of the two men in her very recent past, is the father.
And finding that out while it is possible, involves a pretty serious medical procedure she doesn’t like the sound of at all.
Fear of that long scary amniocentesis needle recommended by her gynaecologist Dr Rawlings (Emma Thompson) means that through her nine months of waiting, Bridget will have to engage in a ménage a trois with both the men in her life.
Emma Thompson is a great addition to the cast, with her perfect sense of comedic timing and wry sense of humour, she all but steals the show.
I could go on and on about all the dizzy, dashing, often delicious and quite dotty moments in Bridget Jones’s Baby, but I don’t want to spoil it for you..
Suffice to say it is a truth universally acknowledged that Bridget Jones finds she still has the ability to make grown up successful and wealthy businessmen engage in childish jealousy theatrics, to gain her hand.
How does it all turn out at the end?
Well you will have to go along and find out for yourself. Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones is a character that embodies all our human failings, helping us to know how to pick ourselves up again through hope and soldier on.
As my movie buddy and I admitted when we emerged into the light of a grey Sunday afternoon in Melbourne from the Palace Cinema Como, Bridget Jones’s Baby was just the tonic we needed as it allowed us an opportunity to chill out, switch off and enjoy someone else’s squirm worthy moments for a change, before getting back to our own.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016
Watch the Trailer