Hollywood Rewind | Bridget Jones’s Diary: Renee Zellweger shines in this Pride and Prejudice retelling

The influence of Pride and Prejudice on Bridget Jones's Diary is writ large in nearly every sequence featuring Colin Firth and Renee Zellweger. In fact, author and screenwriter Helen Fielding had admitted in multiple interviews that her book (on which the film is based) was inspired by the Jane Austen novel.

It is not everyday that you have a modern adaptation of a classic story work miracles with critics and the general public alike. A movie that not only managed to smash box office records, but also win over the picky Academy. Renee Zellweger-starrer Bridget Jones’s Diary is that rare exception. Released in 2001, and helmed by Sharon Maguire, Bridget Jones’s Diary also featured British heartthrobs Colin Firth and Hugh Grant in pivotal parts. Inspired from Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones’s Diary was declared a smash hit upon its release. But, two decades later, what is it about the movie that still strikes a chord with romantic-comedy watchers?

Yes, the cast is likeable enough, and the narrative, though known, is bound to have you rooting for the titular heroine. But is there anything else? In fact, many naysayers believe the movie is just another run-of-the-mill rom-com that happens to have top actors’ billing. However, upon a second viewing, I am inclined to think that it was perhaps the film script’s general attitude of not taking anything too seriously that may have helped establish this long-lasting connection with its fans. The writers were able to bring to life a woman who strived to be a better version of herself, on personal and professional front, and failed continuously. Despite Bridget’s continuous disappointments and obstacles in life, the woman never left a chance to mock herself. Even more than her outwardly appearance, it was her natural goofiness, wit and charm that drew people to her.

For the uninitiated, Bridget is a 32-year-old whose personal life is always in a bit of a mess. She has a crush on her boss Daniel Cleaver (played by Hugh Grant). Later, they get together only for Bridget to realise that Daniel is not at all serious about her. In the middle of all this chaos, Bridget strikes an unlikely friendship with a seemingly cold and distant Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). The regular push and pull happens, as is it does in a love triangle, with both her suitors actually coming to blows over Bridget. A scene Bridget dared not have imagined in her dreams. Ultimately, she has to make a tough (not so much) choice of going with one of them, and (SPOILER ALERT), she chooses the man nearly every woman in her place would have chosen (if those were the only two options).

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The influence of Pride and Prejudice on Bridget Jones’s Diary is writ large in nearly every sequence featuring Colin Firth and Renee Zellweger. In fact, author and screenwriter Helen Fielding had admitted in multiple interviews that the book was based on the Jane Austen novel. Colin Firth, was, in fact, an inspired casting as the talented actor had performed the role of William Darcy in BBC’s 1995 series adaptation of the book. What is more is that Firth’s character in Bridget Jones is also named Darcy, Mark Darcy.

Hugh Grant was incredibly convincing as the handsome rogue with a roving eye. But initially, when the news came out that Renee Zellweger had been picked to play Bridget, there was quite an outcry in the British press as fans of the book did not want an American to play the British part. However, once the feature was out, everyone was stunned into silence with Zellweger’s performance, so much so that she ended up being nominated for an Oscar in Best Actress in a Leading Role category. According to IMDb, Zellweger kept up her British accent off-camera too. Later, co-star Hugh Grant was quoted as saying that he did not know Zellweger had a natural American accent until the final schedule wrapped up. Now that is indeed a praiseworthy act!

Bridget Jones’s Diary is currently streaming on Netflix.  

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