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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Review: Bridget Jones's Diary for Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge

 Bridget Jones’s Diary Review

viewed February 22.13 for the 
Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge

Today I found a vhs copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary at my nearest charity shop.  At .25 I was not leaving it there for another minute!  I was aware this was a take on Jane Austen’s P&P, and not having watched this movie in years, I thought I’d watch it with an eye open to catch any comparisons.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Bridget opens the movie quoting JA’s famous P&P opening line, but as is relevant to this story,
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the moment when one area of your life starts going ok, another part of it falls spectacularly to pieces.”

Whilst still in the opening Christmas Party scene, we see Mark Darcy and his mum discussing Bridget.  Mum encouraging, Mark Darcy verbally disparaging, as Bridget is, at that moment, scooping up her turkey curry from the buffet and clearly over hearing  their conversation
[ala Bingley and Darcy].

Bridget receives an unsettling call from her mum, describing her own life after so many years of marriage,  as powerless, having nothing of her own, without a career.  Seemingly, not much has changed in the 200 years since JA shared her same social commentary via Mrs Bennet !

At her employer’s book launch party, Bridget muffs the intro for the book. 

 Darcy excuses himself from a convo, intending to address Bridget, when he is intercepted by Wickham {aka Daniel Cleaver} Bridget’s boss.  Just so, Wickham with his 'pleasing manner' had made the earlier relational connection with Lizzie and the Bennet girls in Meryton.  Daniel questions her relationship with Mark Darcy, then takes the opportunity to cast a shadow on Darcy’s character as the cause of the marital breakdown that separated them as friends.
Sounding more and more like Wickham!

Having begun a relationship with Daniel Cleaver, they take a weekend mini break, travelling in his top-down convertible.  Bridget arrives at the gorgeous hotel in fine fettle – hair windblown into a haystack, red windburnt face – and who’s stepping down the stairs into the lobby?  Mark Darcy! with his ever present work peer, Natasha, the quintessential Caroline Bingley.  No, not six inches of mud on Bridget’s hems, but the same effect and response in this modern adaptation!
{Would have loved to find a picture of it !}

After breaking up with Daniel following his deceit regarding sexual involvement with another woman, Bridget has the annual couples’ dinner to attend, as a single.  Who just happens to be there?  Of course.  Mark Darcy, once again, with Natasha.  
The crowd takes pleasure in haranguing Bridget on her singleness.  She is making her departure when Darcy follows her to the door.  Taking full advantage of this one on one, she expresses her exasperation at him pointing out her idiocy every time he sees her; she already knows she is one without need of him adding to her inner litany. 

He denies even thinking she’s an idiot at all, but in a speech reminiscent of the original Darcy, he continues, “though there are elements of the ridiculous about you, your mother’s pretty interesting, you let whatever’s in your head come out your mouth without consideration of consequences” then apologizes for being unforgivably rude at the turkey curry buffet.  Darcy follows this with the now famous, “I realized when I met you, perhaps despite appearances, I like you.  I really like you.  Just the way you are.”

Unfortunately, further interaction is cut as Caroline, I mean Natasha, approaches, snapping her fingers at Darcy to rejoin the couples in discussion.  Bridget is taken aback at her mannerism, while Darcy takes his cue and follows the retreating Natasha. 
Bridget’s friends are disbelieving at her confession of being liked by Darcy, “just the way you are”, commenting “this is someone that you hate right?”  
Bennets redux of  Mr Darcy coming to call with Bingley!

Darcy arrives unannounced at Bridget’s, the night of her 33rd birthday dinner, ending up in the kitchen cooking alongside her and her dismal ‘blue string’ soup.  Her friends are delighted to make his acquaintance until an uninvited appearance of Daniel interrupts the festivities.  He selfishly takes Bridget aside to confess his desires while ignoring hers.  Darcy calls him out, at last, to deal with their longstanding conflict in a well acted fight scene, ending up laying Daniel out cold on the front street.  Bridget accuses Darcy of giving the impression of being all moral, normal and noble, yet thus, mistreating his former friend, Daniel.  She still erroneously believes Darcy is the one who has wronged Daniel by causing his marriage breakup [ala Wickham and his lies]...  Yet when Daniel revives, he suggests they go back up to her party, that they were ‘meant for each other’ and that” if I can’t make it with you, I can’t make it with anyone”.

Thankfully, the light is dawning for our protagonist who responds, “that’s not good enough for me.  I’m not willing to gamble my whole life on someone who’s not quite sure.”  She finally recognizes she is looking for more than what Daniel Cleaver has to offer;  as Elizabeth recognized the same in Wickham’s profligate ways.  Attraction was not enough.

A year has now rolled past and we gain another reference to the original P&P when Bridget is home with her father for Christmas. 

In low spirits at the loss of his wife’s presence, the door opens and she walks in, suitcase in hand.  As the two talk, Mrs Jones speaks out her feelings regarding the husband and Bridget’s’ grown up club of two’, always making fun of the mum. “What’s silly old mummy gone and done this time?”  Very much the sense we have of Mr Bennet and daughter Lizzie throughout the story.
Thankfully , this one ends in reconciliation for all.

As the Jones family prepares to attend the annual Christmas party, this year hosted by the Darcy family, Bridget is being cajoled to hurry along.  She is appreciably reluctant, until her mother tells the truth of the story about which Bridget has been misled.  The revelation has her racing to the party in order to let Darcy know her true ‘liking’ for him just as he is, now that she knows the truth.  He’s taken aback and rightly enough which we come to understand when his father announces that son Darcy’s been called to a law practice in NY.  

Not only that, he’s taking Natasha as his law partner whom the Darcys are expecting to become an 'in-law of another sort in days ahead'.  Mark Darcy himself looks stunned at that announcement, and there’s a typical Caroline Bingley response that she’d told the Darcys not to mention that part...

This movie included many well done P&P parallels, which were caught by intentionally watching for the similarities.  I will definitely look forward to another viewing {now that I own a copy}!  I do have to make note of  the language as being not JA in style or tone.  This adaptation is of a contemporary setting, which should help prepare the unsuspecting viewer both for language and sexual references and situations.

I won’t spoil the ending for anyone who hasn’t viewed it as yet.  Suffice it to say, the conclusion is entirely satisfying right from the unexpected panic of one tiny plot twist
until the credits begin to roll.  

1 comment:

Natasha In Oz said...

I have just finished marking the essays my students wrote comparing these two texts and I am very happy to say that they all passed! How could one fail when writing about Austen and Bridget Jones's Diary though...

Fun post-thank you!

Best wishes,
Natasha in Oz

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