A Letter about BRIDGET JONES
How many times have we agreed that Bridget Jonesís Diary couldnít possibly be made into a decent movie? I remember the fits we threw when Texan Renee Zellweger got the title role. You wanted Kate Winslet and I preferred Toni Collette. Well, sweetie, I just saw the film and couldnít wait to tell you we were v. wrong! Please donít get angry with me, but I think the film is even better than the book.
That little Zellweger gal practically transforms herself into our darling, klutzy Bridget. Of course, sheís not petite in this movie like she was as Nurse Betty, having gained over twenty pounds to play the part. Iím glad she wasnít afraid to show off her extra weight in some pretty revealing scenes. I loved the way her full-bodied charms overwhelmed a skimpy bunny costume in the disastrous "tarts and vicars" party sequence. She also sounds terribly British, so we shouldnít have worried about her American accent ruining everything.
I think youíll enjoy the performances of Hugh Grant and Colin Firth too. Grant is terrific as Daniel Cleaver. Heís just as seductive and slimy as we imagined Bridgetís flirtatious boss to be. What a change from that shy bookstore owner in Notting Hill! And casting the dignified Firth as Mark Darcy, Bridgetís stuffy childhood friend, was a stroke of genius, if you ask me. Did you realize this is the same guy who played the Mr. Darcy in BBCís Pride and Prejudice? (Oh, crikey, youíre the one who told me author Helen Fielding considers her book an updating of Jane Austenís classic, so you probably know all about Mr. Firth too.)
We were correct about one thing, Emsy. The role of Bridgetís newly liberated mum doesnít suit Gemma Jones, the actress we admired so much in that television series about The Duchess of Duke Street. Your idea about Brenda Blethyn being better for the comedy bits is right on target. Brenda would have chewed the scenery in Mumís t.v. spots for all sheís worth (like she dominated the screen in Little Voice), whereas Gemma just smiles and looks wide-eyed.
Call me sacrilegious, but I believe most of the story changes worked very well here. The best example is when Mark Darcy helps Bridget cook a meal for her friends. The big event ends in chaos anyway --- thanks to an unwelcome appearance by Daniel Cleaver. Although this incident isnít in the book, I quite approve of the way it highlights the humor and apparent hopelessness of Bridgetís relationship problems.
I know we made fun of Bridgetís plans for self-improvement, inner poise, and losing weight while reading her amusing diary. We laughed at her whining over being a 30-something "Singleton" among a world of "Smug Marrieds." But Iím warning you, Emily, the movie makes all that seem more poignant and real. I was completely surprised at how relieved I felt when Bridget finally discovers that true friends and lovers like her "just the way she is."
Anyway, Emsy, please see Bridget soon. Iím dying to hear your reactions!
Your v. g. friend,
(Released by Miramax/Universal and rated "R" for language and some strong sexuality.)