“I like you, very much. Just as you are.” –Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001, Movie)
Bridget Jones’s Diary is one of the few movies that I like better than the book. It perfectly captures the life of an awkward, verbally incontinent, 30-something woman and her struggles to establish a successful career while dating someone highly unsuitable. There are parts of the book that I quite like (Singletons! Hurrah!), but Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant are so perfect for their roles and the script is so charming that it makes me not regret the changes from the book.
The movie opens with the new year. Bridget is going to a party at her parents’ home where she meets Mark Darcy, a successful barrister. With a name like Darcy, it is safe to assume that she will hate him immediately, yet it is equally true that she will be mistaken about her first impressions. She begins flirting with her boss, Daniel, and begins an unsuitable relationship with him. However, despite the prominence of the romantic plot lines, it is Bridget alone who carries the story.
She is no Elizabeth Bennet. She is not particularly eloquent. But she shows a great capacity for growth. In the end, she stands up for herself, gaining a new job and an important television interview in the process. And she did it by being herself. She is not an elegant woman of the femme fatale sort, who woos and tosses aside men as she chooses, but she has a great group of friends who care about her. She does not project an image of absolute perfection. Flawed, Bridget does the best that she can and tries to be kind and, above all, is herself despite what other people may think of her.
This is not a groundbreaking movie in terms of cinematography, pushing the borders or introducing something new. Instead, it is a funny movie about a likable woman in a world where, even today, there is a shortage of movies with women protagonists. It is the story of a woman who finds someone who loves her precisely for who she is, who does not expect her to change, and, in a way, I suppose that is groundbreaking.
What I like most of all is that sense of being true to herself. Despite Bridget’s attempts at self-improvement, she does not allow it to change her inner sense of self. There is a scene where she ditches a collection of self-help books and replaces them with new ones. However, she does not need them. Guided by her own internal compass, she navigates her way to a happy ending, even if it does involve an embarrassing public speech. That is who Bridget is, though, and it makes the ending that much better.
This movie offers a reaffirming message in terms of making decisions. Just be yourself, however flawed, and be persistent and focus on what is truly important to you. You will eventually find the right place where you will be accepted, just as you are.