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Bridget Jones's Diary(2001)
Bridget Jones is an average woman struggling against her age, her weight, her job, her lack of a man, and her many imperfections. As a New Year's Resolution, Bridget decides to take control of her life, starting by keeping a diary in which she will always tell the complete truth. The fireworks begin when her charming though disreputable boss takes an interest in the quirky Miss Jones. Thrown into the mix are Bridget's band of slightly eccentric friends and a rather disagreeable acquaintance who Bridget cannot seem to stop running into or help finding quietly attractive.
For more about Bridget Jones's Diary and the Bridget Jones's Diary Blu-ray release, see Bridget Jones's Diary Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on July 16, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Celia Imrie
Director: Sharon Maguire
» See full cast & crew
Bridget Jones's Diary Blu-ray Review
She's gonna make it after all.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, July 16, 2011
The supposedly piquant, Latino-centric From Prada to Nada is only one of the most recent in a long line of various adaptations of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. As I discussed in my review of that unfortunate misfire, Austen adaptations have become something of a cottage industry, with appearances of everything from more or less straightforward reworkings (the iconic Colin Firth BBC miniseries or the Keira Knightley feature film) to the ebullient Bollywood Bride and Prejudice to the hilarious satirical miniseries Lost in Austen to the forthcoming film version of the wonderfully titled novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. While some purists might aver that Austen is rolling over in her grave (repeatedly) as these supposed indignities, I personally think quite the opposite; Austen probably would have been thrilled to see the work she fought so hard to get published continuing to delight audiences in any form this many years after it was originally released. Despite this plethora of versions, probably none has caught the public consciousness quite so firmly as the completely silly but immensely enjoyable Bridget Jones's Diary, a film which mixes a decidedly non-Austen sexual freedom with an arch and dry comic sensibility that appeals to a post-modern audience raised in an era where cynicism isn't the exclusive property of the landed gentry. Though Diary is one of the looser adaptations of Austen's source novel, there are certainly enough threads linking it to its progenitor to make it the leader of the pack, for better or worse and at least in terms of audience appeal, of the slew of Pride and Prejudice wannabes that have appeared with fair regularity over the past couple of decades.
This may just be an errant Y chromosome talking, and please (no, really, please) forgive any unintended insensitivity, but there are some aspects to "female empowerment" that I frankly just do not get. When Bridget Jones's Diary first appeared, Helen Fielding's novel was acclaimed as a beautiful piece of proto-feminist fiction, one which at last gave a voice to Everywoman, replete with all her fears and anxieties. And that same acclaim largely greeted the film version, which swept the box office and helped make Renée Zellweger a major attraction. But how does one reconcile those claims with the fact that Bridget defines herself as a "spinster" and seems to base her entire self-worth on her ability to land a man? Isn't that everything feminists have been arguing against since the halcyon days of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem? It's even more perplexing when the film version of Bridget Jones's Diary makes no bones about its populist proclivities, letting every little triumph in Bridget's burgeoning but tempestuous romantic life play out to a series of Top 40 hits which are supposedly meant to up the "feel good" ante. What it does in actuality is make Bridget the stepdaughter as it were of Mary Richards from the old Mary Tyler Moore show, a spunky lass (and we all know some people hate spunk) who will overcome all obstacles and find happiness in the most unlikely places. All that's missing is the toss of a British beret to complete the comparison.
Okay, that's the curmudgeonly response to aspects of Bridget Jones's Diary that cynics may find less than appealing. But the truth is the film is enormously entertaining and often laugh out loud hilarious. I frankly have never been a huge Zellweger fan. Her countenance is an oddly sour one, as if she's either just sucked down one too many lemons or is passing an inordinately large kidney stone, and her performances can often seem mannered and overly contrived. Add to this an especially hilarious evisceration of her backstage demeanor by one Kathy Griffin (in one of Griffin's scabrous stand up television specials), and it's hard to take Zellweger as seriously as she evidently takes herself. The good news is, you don't have to take Zellweger seriously at all in Bridget Jones's Diary, for the role is a malapropism prone buffoon who stumbles from one slaptstick conundrum to the next. And miracle of miracles, Zellweger proves herself a rather brilliant comedienne in both the verbal and physical arenas, bringing a definite believability to the character of Bridget despite the cartoonish ambience of much of the film.
The original Fielding novel spent a great deal of time dealing with Bridget's fascination with Colin Firth in the BBC miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice, and of course it's one of Bridget Jones's Diary's casting coups that Firth is on hand playing an updated version of Darcy. He's curiously restrained in this film, even a bit more than your typical, "historically accurate" Darcy. That leaves most of the comic fireworks to play out between Zellweger and Hugh Grant as the womanizing cad for whom she works, at least in the first half of the film. The chemistry between all three of these stars is palpable and helps to cement Bridget Jones's Diary's entertainment value. But it's actually some of the supporting roles, notably Gemma Jones as Bridget's dotty mother who becomes a helpmate on a sort of QVC shopping channel, where some of the film's biggest laughs originate.
This is one of those films that seems preternaturally ordained to appeal to women, though men will probably find a lot to enjoy in it as well. If any of you guys have that same errant, questioning Y chromosome, take some advice and just keep your yap shut if your wife or girlfriend wants you to watch Bridget Jones Diary. There are certainly worse fates, and as some wise man once said, discretion is the better part of valor.
Bridget Jones's Diary Blu-ray, Video Quality
Bridget Jones's Diary arrives on Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1. Generally the film looks great, though even this Blu-ray can't quite compensate for what has always been a sort of soft looking source. Colors are noticeably more robust and better saturated on the BD than on the previously released DVD, with sharpness also managing at least a partial uptick. Some of the darker scenes are still hampered by moderate crush, though that is at least somewhat improved from the previous standard definition home video release. Grain is very natural looking and contrast is also solid throughout. The one issue is the overall gauziness which has always been part of this film's "look," for better or worse. A lot of the location footage almost seems like it was shot in soft focus (though I doubt it was), and everything exhibits a sort of fuzzy, dewy look a lot of the time. This is not going to blow anyone's mind in terms of high-def wonderment, but it's a good looking Blu-ray that is considerably better than the DVD, even if it doesn't approach reference quality levels.
Bridget Jones's Diary Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Bridget Jones's Diary's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is a nice sonic upgrade from the previous DVD version, especially with regard to the virtually nonstop use of source cues, which now spill through the surrounds with a lot of force and energy. The bulk of the film is smaller dialogue moments, and so don't provide incredibly opportunity for "wow" immersion, but the film does extremely well in any number of large crowd scenes, and in several great establishing shots in and around London. Fidelity is superb here, with excellent reproduction through all frequency ranges, and the mix is extremely well balanced between dialogue, score and the occasional effect (listen to the funny "rubbery" noise when Bridget is descending the fire pole for a good example).
Bridget Jones's Diary Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Bridget Jones's Diary Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Guys, take some advice from someone who's made it through around two decades of married bliss (and I mean that, seriously I do): when your wife or girlfriend takes a look at Colin Firth and emits a long sigh, whispering, "Isn't he dreamy?", simply fight any urge to make a disparaging, ironic or satiric comment. You'll be happier for it, believe me, though your tongue may be permanently scarred from having to bite down so hard on it. My wife watches Bridget Jones's Diary at least once a year and gets an immense kick out of it every time, and it obviously provides her a level of romantic storybook happiness, and that's fine with me. Guys may not exactly swoon for Firth (or Grant, for that matter), but the film is undeniably engaging and is undoubtedly funny enough to not be thought of exclusively as a chick flick. This Blu-ray looks manifestly better than the DVD and sounds spectacular, and comes Recommended.
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Lionsgate has also announced the Blu-ray release of Bridget Jones's Diary and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Bridget Jones's Diary stars Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant in a romantic comedy based on the Helen Fielding novel of the same name. The Boy ...
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