I first watched Bridget Jones’s Diary as a freshman in college, something like ten years ago, borrowing a beloved prof’s DVD and huddled in my dorm room, laughing at all the sexual innuendos and silly pratfalls Bridget found herself in. It was also my go-to comfort food movie when I was single on Valentine’s Day or needing a pick-me up after a bad day. I read the book ten summers ago, after recovering from painful jaw surgery–I didn’t enjoy it as much then, because I was 19 and somewhat loopy from the anesthesia and drugs and not being in tune with contemporary British culture and not understanding some of the clever references. So when I re-read it this time, I appreciated it so much more.
Bridget Jones is a 34-year-old Singleton amidst a sea of Smug Marrieds (which is a very accurate descriptor for that subset of married couples who act smug simply because they are Married) trying to cut down her calories, cigarettes, and alcohol intake while finding a sensible boyfriend. Of course, getting involved with her boss, Daniel Cleaver, is not the way to do this. But can you blame her?
Nope. Seriously, one of the film adaptation’s best choices was in casting Hugh Grant. I don’t much care for his aw-shucks, floppy-haired stuttering hero in almost all his films, but the man was born to play Daniel Cleaver.
Of course, she also crosses paths with the somewhat aloof and cold Mark Darcy, the son of her parents’ friends. It’s instant dislike until a series of mis-events makes her reconsider her stance on both Daniel and Mark.
As an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, it’s lightly entertaining and somewhat silly. That’s what I latched onto when I read it ten years ago. As a piece of contemporary adult British fiction, however, it’s a bit more complexly interesting. There’s an undercurrent of what it means to be a woman in Cool Britannia, and there are some interesting discussions regarding feminism that should not be discounted.
Of course, I the nerdy academic, greatly enjoyed the famous contemporary British Booker-winner cameo in the novel (I won’t spoil it, but it’s not Salman Rushdie, as the film depicts it…).
I am looking forward to my re-read of The Edge of Reason and finally breaking my resolve not to read Mad about the Boy. Despite the lack of a certain reindeer-jumpered gentleman:
Darling, I’m sure Helen Fielding is sorry.