Went to see Bridget Jones’s Baby last night.
It was probably my favourite movie this year.
I will make the caveat that I’m not saying this is the *best* film of the year but it does achieve a pretty impossible task. I use that language specifically to relate it to what Movies with Mikey describes in the success of The Force Awakens last year.
While not nearly on the grand scale of the Star Wars universe, Bridget Jones’s Baby comes from a deeply loved fictional world, many years after a widely disliked sequel. It’s yet to be clear if BJB will attract new fans to our little Bridget – although the international box office numbers suggest it might – this movie has definitely breathed new life into characters that many had written off for dead (or actually killed off in the case of the Bridget Jones novels – sorry Mr. Darcy).
But what did this movie get right?
Much has been made of the fact that Renee Zellweger did not put on Bridget’s traditional extra few pounds for this film, but that overlooks what makes Bridget Jones one of the most beloved literary characters of our time. It’s never been about the weight specifically, but that she’s relatable. Where the second film really went wrong was sliding into caricature.
Yes, Bridget will always fuck up, but she’s not a fuck up. The Edge of Reason (the film at least – not the book, which is brilliant) robbed our heroin of agency, self-awareness, and smarts. She wasn’t real and she certainly wasn’t the Bridget Jones we grew to know almost like a friend from reading her diary.
So, that Bridget is no longer just a little bit fat might be a problem in isolation, but it’s not when this film so deeply understands Bridget and what makes her special (no surprise considering that Bridget Jones’s Diary helmer Sharon Maguire – and rumoured inspiration for Bridget’s best friend Sharon – is back behind the camera). While Bridget may have found her ideal weight, she’s still – at 43 – trying to sort her life out.
The first 30 minutes of this film are complete joy – catching up with friends we’ve known for years.
What’s Tom up to now?
Jude’s hair is so long!
Sharon has kids?!
Long-running movie series have the advantage of in-built moments like this if they properly take advantage of them, which BJB does brilliantly. It’s part of what has made the current golden age of television – the ability to tell stories that last more than a fleeting moment in time. BJB deftly intertwines old characters into Bridget’s current life, setting up the crux of the story, the titular baby.
The centre of the film is a little more serious as Bridget must decide – as she always has – where her life is headed next. Again, what makes this film a real joy to watch is that while there are, always, two men chasing her, Bridget is her own hero. She has regained her agency and truly loves herself (and her growing baby) more than she will ever love any of the men that may come and go from her world.
I’m not going to lie. I was worried about how it was all going to wrap in a satisfying way, but satisfy in does.
Needless to say, Bridget discovers the paternity of her baby, and lives happily ever after. I won’t spoil it but to say that while she ends up with a man, the final shot is of Bridget walking with her baby.
Throughout her journey she has family, friends, and loves, but the root of her story is that she is enough.