Starring: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Strange Political Statements
Director: Sharon Maguire
Running Time: 123mins
Synopsis: Over 40 and still single, Bridget, flighty and still prone to consistent diary ramblings, is thinking her life is on track. Two random and unexpected encounters with ex Mr Darcy (Firth) and newcomer Jack Qwant (Dempsey) lead to getting pregnant and torn between the two men.
It’s tough to review a film that is not at all aimed at my demographic. How can I relate to a female led tale about lost love, biological clocks ticking and the pressures of being a woman in today’s society? Not a lot as it happens. Quite a number of moments of soppy female wish fulfilment passed me by with little emotion. However I still found much to like. Warm, funny and wittily scripted. It’s pretty delightful.
Arriving at the dawn of the millennium, the first Bridget Jones was a calling card for young women. Portraying a 20-something with candidness and a certain truthfulness in amongst the trappings of a fantastical rom-com. It marked Zellweger out as real comedic talent, and gave us the immortal sight of Firth and Grant duking it out. The 2004 sequel Edge of Reason was, however, pretty dire. Entirely forgettable and missing all of the wit of the first. Now, 12 years later, we return to her life. Successful in work, less so in her love life. Bridget is fighting off the need to settle down and follow the set path society says women should follow.
Hereafter it all gets rather thin, meets handsome man, shags him then runs into ex, whom still has feelings for, shags him also. A few weeks later, pregnant and none the wiser as to the father. The paper light plot is covered over with some funny set-pieces, heartfelt moments and a decent cast. Zellweger returns to the film world, after a long hiatus and what appears to be a new face, and proves what a comedic talent she can be. Nailing the British accent with aplomb and managing to be physically funny whilst delivering witty comebacks with terrific timing. She brings huge amounts of emotional substance to scenes that could easily turn saccharine.
The two men are sadly both just a little too unbelievable. Coming just on the wrong side of wish fulfilment. Dempsey takes the brunt of this. All smiles, and romantic gestures. He is what we call movie perfect, no man like him exists in real life. Firth is not much better. An old school gentlemen sort, the type Firth does best (see Kingsman, Kings Speech etc), intellectual, well-off, emotionally closed off. Another form of female fantasy. He does, however, bring some much needed soul to it all. Firth is too good an actor and elevates the material to a place where you feel real sympathy for him. Plus the man carries a suit better than anyone.
The surrounding cast are a selection of decent comedy performers and proper British institutions, such as the immensely lovable Jim Broadbent. They all contribute towards frequent gentle laughs. There are a couple of laugh out loud set-pieces, but the tone is one of lightheartedness rather than raucousness. One person to single out is Emma Thompson, who stars as Bridget’s doctor as well as contributing to the script, bringing a dash of acerbic wit to her character and I suspect to the script as a whole. She is a national delight as always and lights up the screen whenever she’s on.
The female influence extends round to returning director Sharon Maguire, she skipped the second film, who should be praised for her solid direction. Never flashy but capable and controlled. Although it could’ve used a tighter edit, 2hrs is much too long for a plot as thin as this, and it has some odd political messages shaking around. The scenes featuring Darcy representing female empowerment leaders are heavy handed and unnecessary. Not to mention all the scenes involving Bridget’s workplace. Apart from a few funny moments and a couple of great characters, it’s an unusual mix of political soapboxing and thoroughly unbelievable machinations. She makes so many utter cock ups that you start to question how she was taken on in the first place. Plus none of it seems to go anywhere except to add to the already overlong running time.
And yet it is hard to find too much fault with something so full of warmth, lighthearted frivolity and characters to root for. I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
Verdict: It goes on far too long but there is much to enjoy in this belated trilogy closer. Quintessentially British; witty, earnest and drily funny. I may not be the intended audience but you cannot help but be warmed by something so endearing. A successful delivery for this Baby.