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Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason Print E-mail
Friday, 12 November 2004
A sequel to 2001’s “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” based on a novel by Helen Fielding (as, loosely, is the new film), “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” is a romantic comedy that continues the adventures of the titular heroine in her quest for love. Anybody who remembers the first film may wonder how exactly the filmmakers are going to pull this off, as by the finale of “Diary,” the love-obsessed Bridget (Renee Zellweger) was happily paired up with her uptight but fundamentally decent boyfriend, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth).

However, in this “after the happily ever after” tale, it turns out that a steady relationship hasn’t done much to smooth out Bridget’s neuroses. She is still obsessed with her weight (she thinks she’s fat, though much of the audience will feel this is even remotely true only by movie standards – her legs are still good enough for short skirts), she still smokes and she’s still formidably insecure. Therefore, when she notices a friendship between Mark and a pretty colleague (Jacinda Barrett), Bridget’s instincts leap to the worst conclusions. At the same time, Bridget’s career as an on-camera TV host (or as they call the job in England, “presenter”) goes through some twists, landing her on assignment in Thailand with ex-boss/ex-boyfriend Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), a charming cad who claims to have stopped being a total jerk.

Director Beeban Kidron sets a nice jaunty tone, but the screenplay, credited to four separate writers – Andrew Davies, novelist Fielding, Richard Curtis and Adam Brooks – is episodic (not surprisingly, given all those hands), which doesn’t allow for much of a through-line. The film also suffers from a problem that plagues a lot of romantic comedies – it is so convinced of its heroine’s inherent adorableness that it doesn’t take many steps to make her actually likable, so Bridget’s self-absorption, meant to induce empathy (the audience isn’t composed of saints, after all), comes off as insensitivity. Zellweger, however, gives an expert performance with a very credible English accent. Grant is pitch-perfect as the undeniably witty but hard to read Daniel and Firth succeeds in the difficult feat of making Mark endearing yet authentically stuffy.

Songs – mostly ‘60s pieces from the cooing “Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton to mighty tracks like Barry White’s “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything” to Marvin Gaye’s smooth “Let’s Get It On” – are used throughout for good effect, with a group rendition of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” a highlight (albeit one that feels like a bit of a stretch for effect – we see it coming before it happens). Sound is good overall, with an unobtrusive mix that is effective without calling attention to itself.

“Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” is agreeable, with some good laughs, but as neither Bridget nor her chroniclers really want to shake up the “happily ever after” we were left with last time, it doesn’t feel like anything really new is happening here

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