Friday, 23 September 2016

Bridget Jones's Baby

After a (pregnant) pause of 12 years, Miss Jones is back – and she is blooming

Written by Jason Solomons

With a barrage of swearing and a procession of picture-perfect locations, the traditional magic formula for the great British rom- com is sprinkled all over the third bridget Jones movie – and the results are sparkling.

And you can forget all that gossip about Renée Zellweger’s face – on screen at least, it’s still capable of pulling some choice comic expressions and recreating a much-loved and now increasingly lived-in British character.

So, Bridget Jones is back and – I’m sure this isn’t a spoiler – this time she’s having a baby. The problem, the big comedy situation, is that she doesn’t know who the father is. After a couple of classically drunken episodes, Bridget has slept with internet billionaire Jack Qwant (dishy American Patrick Dempsey), whom she meets at a muddy music festival when this Prince Charming finds her Hunter Welly.

But, at a posh party days later, she has also fallen back into bed with her perennially ruinous crush, human rights barrister Mr Mark Darcy.

Bridget herself is by now a 43-year-old, high-flying though inept TV news producer. She seems reconciled with her ‘singleton’ status, but the diary scribblings – now on an electric notepad tablet thingy – reveal the search to fill the gap of loneliness continues. Despite her newly assertive self-confidence, she has still slept with both of these men within days and, when she can’t squeeze into her skinny jeans, discovers she’s pregnant.

Film-Jul17-JasonSolomons-176As she attempts to find out which of these men might be the father, Bridget gets those famous big knickers in a right twist and very British high-jinks ensue, with most of the film very funny indeed and involving some excellent set-pieces.

The best scenes are either in the television studio, where Bridget barks wrong instructions at presenter Miranda (Sarah Solemani) while they’re on air, or at the obstetrician’s, where Emma Thompson (who also had a hand in the script) plays Dr Rawlings and gives herself some of the film’s best and most witheringly Emma Thompson-ish lines.

There are lots of four-letter words, as well as ‘bonking’, ‘shafting’ and the zinger of Thompson saying ‘fart’. All this posh effin’ and buggery reveals some strange kind of Brit-com legacy, stretching all the way back, of course, to that famous opening of Four Weddings And A Funeral. practically in homage to that hit, which sparked off the whole Working Title success story, there is the Litany of London locations new and old (Borough Market, Greenwich Park, even Highbury Fields, where Hugh Grant kissed Andie MacDowell all those years ago).

On screen as well as off, it’s like a reunion. Working title produces, while Bridget’s creator Helen Fielding writes and the film series’ original director Sharon Maguire (the inspiration behind shazzer of the books and newspaper column) returns. Bridget’s friends reassemble – Sally Phillips as Shazzer, James Callis as Tom, Shirley Henderson as Jude – and serve their purpose well, which is now mainly to have christenings and family events so unattached Bridget can come along as the nominated godmother and self-appointed ‘spinster’ and get herself in drunken trouble.

I laughed plenty and heartily at the writing, the lively comic pacing and at Zellweger’s undeniably bravura comic performance as Bridget Jones. EVen if there’s not much room for any true pathos here, Fielding’s creation still feels like a real person who cries, bruises and loves. She’s a woman gamely surviving the pitfalls and pratfalls of her own insecurities, particularly in the modern workplace.

Zellweger’s sympathetic portrayal wins us over. If Bridget is far from perfect, the star’s English accent rarely falters and every member of the audience, male and female, will see something of themselves in her. You can’t fail to wish her well.

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