Review: Bridget Jones was a phenomenon; she’s undeniably a woman empowerment icon when the milennium’s still early. Bridget (from-Texas-to-England, Renee Zellweger) is a singleton with plausible retorts, bad-fortune magnet and quirky personality; caught up in a bizarre love triangle with her charismatic boss Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) and an England top man, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth).
Adapted from Helen Fielding’s Pride and Prejudice inspired novel of the same title, Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) was a triumphant victory, especially for the actress, who eventually took over the early years of the 2000s following Oscar nom for this film. The sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, though, failed to replicate the predecessor’s hit despite having the same cast and managing to have fun with Madonna’s Like A Virgin. There’s where Bridget Jones’s diary ends for the 2000s.
12 years a downer, Bridget Jones returns with a new journey, apparently, a terrific one (hint: the title) in a good ol’ drama, brand new conflict, Bridget Jones’s Baby. While the title says it all (read: what Bridget Jones would deal for the rest of the movie), it never really wants to give it up that easy; reason is: Bridget Jones, however old she’s become, is still the same ol’ Bridget Jones.
This reunion is basically sweet; Sharon Maguire returns as a helmer as she gets assisted by Fielding herself, Dan Mazer and the big deal, Emma Thompson in the writing department. Most of the casts including Zellweger, Firth, even Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent minus Hugh Grant, returns. Meanwhile, on the screen, Bridget will once again reunite with a typical confict of hers: Choice.
Bridget Jones, now a 43 y.o. senior TV news producer, is surprisingly still single after two happy endings in her previous films. Her life is understandably miserable hence the ‘All by Myself’ song also returns. For your record, Mark Darcy is now married to a woman named Camilla; meanwhile, Daniel Cleaver is reportedly died in a plane crash. Please imagine how 12 years have turned a beautifully designed love story into mess.
Up to this point, there’s no real clue to where the word Baby in the title will lead; in fact, Bridget is the old spinster, no strings attached to any man, unless for pleasure. Trouble becomes her when she decides to ‘spend a night’ with an online-dating guru, Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey) at a rock festival camp; and the following week, with her long-time paramour, Mark. Bridget is, as you might guess, pregnant. Thing is, she doesn’t even know who the father is since both intercourses were done during her fertility window; hence the Baby in the title.
Disclaimer comes first: when I watched Bridget Jones’s Diary for the first time back in circa 2004 or 2005 as a teenager (in a marathon with The Edge of Reason), I wasn’t quite impressed with Bridget Jones as character. There’s something that made it difficult for me to get connected to the character (and not the soundtracks). However, when I rewatched it again approximately a decade later in anticipation for the three-quel, I viewed Bridget Jones differently as a grown-up. It’s easier to get connected to the character, since Bridget is basically all of us with additional bad luck and more tendencies to accident.
Accordingly, it proves that Bridget Jones is a specific adult romcom franchise; which gets only better with time. Meaning to say, we could view it differently from different category of age. Baby is of the similar premise; while I might enjoy it now, my view of it might be different when I’m at the same age as the characters. Yet, there’s one thing that does not change apparently.
Bridget Jones is indeed life of every movies she’s in; no matter how successful or not, she shines bright. Baby, as long awaited sequel, manages to have that, too. Although it is difficult to find Bridget Jones’ persona we used to know in the beginning of the film. She’s more seasoned; she’s more mature and she has a real responsibility; but, Bridget Jones is Bridget Jones. Some characteristics are attached to her and that’s what we love about it. Not being able to recognize Ed Sheeran and not even having guts to conduct a DNA test to find out who the father of her baby are only some clumsiness that makes her Bridget Jones.
While two first movies are a direct romcom bonanza, Baby has a different approach although it retains the romcom elements (including the key point: love triangle). What makes it different is the subject matter, which might be taboo sometimes or improper. Baby and Bridget’s attitude to the matter she’s facing is somehow justifying the result of her reckless behavior; which at some points seem too offensive (not to mention that I am a conservative thinking).
Fortunately, the script is clever enough to explore that sharp subject matter into a heartwarming drama. It retains the spirit of women empowerment from the first movie without making it blatantly sexist. Sympathy is what the script attempts to emanate, especially to the male characters, Bridget’s love interests. While it once again highlights choices as a main theme; Baby crafts a more intriguing conflict. Not necessarily as classic as Daniel-and-Mark pattern, but this Jack-and-Mark pattern has a more equal chance. Audiences are caught in the messy threads just as Bridget is; since both guys are real deals.
There’s maturity shown from the male protagonists. What they deal with isn’t merely winning a girl’s heart anymore; even, Bridget Jones isn’t a girl anymore. Colin Firth, as usual, is an elegant lover; there’s something inside him which holds him back the way he failed to make it with Bridget and eventually chose someone else. Meanwhile, Patrick Dempsey as Jack isn’t just a replacement of Hugh Grant’s Daniel Cleaver. His character is a different kind of man; he knows love and he has love, even he’s an expert of love. That’s where the dilemma leads on.
The center of the triangle, Bridget Jones, is indeed the most integral part of this story. There’s a glimpse of maturity in her, too; but what we see mostly is fear. She is the same Bridget Jones but with this invisible fear of being an old spinster and of finding no real love in her life. She might look as Bridget Jones as usual, but Zellweger emanates a different aura, which keeps audiences attached to her however frustrating her deeds are. This Bridget Jones might not be an Oscar darling as her first tenure, but Zellweger’s tenure as a more seasoned Bridget Jones is definitely a cult classic.
In the end, whatever difficult to find Bridget Jones instantly in Bridget Jones’s Baby, but the further it goes, the tighter it is grabbing the attention of Bridget Jones’ enthusiast with big laughs and big hearts. While not instantly classic as the first film, it gets a silly, stronger conflict at its center. Once again, all spotlights lead to Zellweger… and the soundtracks.
Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016)