Bridget (Renée Zellweger) is jonesing for a man so badly that she’s not prepared to wait for one who’s actually nice to her.
This 2001 rom-com is as lazy as she is, neglecting Bridget’s character arc like Zellweger neglects her accent. The plot requires her social circle to comprise her boss (Hugh Grant), an old family friend (Colin Firth) and her separated parents (Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent), lending an inauthentic, depressing fatalism to the story of a supposedly liberated young woman. The wine-guzzling, chain-smoking Bridget is a disarmingly messy female protagonist but disappointingly lacking in agency and seduced by power, arrogance and the idea of marriage, doomed to end up with (spoiler alert) the stuffy barrister her mother picks out for her at the start of the movie.
Neither is she particularly likeable or witty, alternating between shallow comments about needing a man and faux pas in front of people so awful you wonder why she even wants to be part of this elitist London lifestyle. The cycle of export-friendly, posh scenarios are presumably meant to seem aspirational, but the execution is tacky and the characters shallow to the point of embarrassment. The most bizarre moment is when Salman Rushdie and Jeffrey Archer show up, and it says a lot about your characters when Jeffrey Archer isn’t even the worst person in the film.
Make a shallow movie if you must, but Bridget Jones’s Diary reaches Sex and the City 2 levels of obnoxious by introducing a deportation subplot that’s only there to serve the main plot about a privileged woman finding a husband. This culminates (more spoilers) in a fist fight between Grant and Firth, a conclusion as reductive and nasty as all their preceding behaviour towards Bridget. As a result the film feels quickly dated, with all the freshness and warmth of taking a drag on an unlit cigarette.