When released in cinemas, I wrote of the film: Director Sharon Maguire makes her
feature debut with great flair for the material; perfectly played pain, suitable
subtleties and designer attention to detail gives the film pace, energy and accessible
drama-based humour. Zellweger is perfect, as are the two men, although if my life depended
on it, I’d say Colin Firth is a shade superior as the barrister with the cool British
exterior and seething passion inside. Grant’s mannerisms are gone, and his charm
works just as well in sly mode as in sincere. As this is the dsame film, I stick to that
With the DVD, you can pause at your favourite, juicy moments; like when Daniel
discovers Bridget’s H U G E nickers during their fumble on the floor. This way, your
hysterical laughter won’t drown out any important dialogue. You can also pause it to
study the production design, which is pretty damn good, or to just stare at the still
image and marvel at the enormous popularity of a story about a young woman …(see
But really and truly, it is the Englishness, the VERY Englishness of the entire
enterprise on DVD that makes this such a standout of home entertainment. For example, in
the Behind the Scenes featurette, there’s Helen Fielding, the author of the book,
coyly smiling about how indignant the entire English nation was when it was announced that
an American – and Renee Zellwegger is a Texan to boot – would play Bridget
Jones. She took that to mean that the nation really cared about Bridget. And then she
slips in the fact that, well, after all, Scarlet O’Hara was played by an English
actress, so this is the Americans getting their revenge.
Fielding’s candour ("I stole the plot from Jane Austen [shot of Pride and
Prejudice on screen]…") is disarming and refreshing. This also explains Mark
Darcy’s name – and the casting of Colin Firth as Darcy, the character he played
in Pride and Prejudice. It’s just so nicely revealed here.
The two music videos are…well, two music videos; but the selection from
Fielding’s original columns that later made up the book, is excellent. It is reading
text, though, not moving pictures, so those who with short attention spans will leave this
till last. The columns capture the essence of the whole Bridget Jones persona rather well.
The half dozen deleted scenes are unaccompanied by any commentary, and not especially
intriguing. There is never any point including these without some reference, but the
distributors seem to think it buffs up the DVD features list.
For me, the main attraction is usually the director’s commentary, and sometimes I
leave that to last, as in this case. I was surprised to read a disclaimer at the start, to
the effect that Sharon Maguire’s views are hers and not necessarily shared by any of
the companies involved, like Miramax or Buena Vista or Working Title. This tickled my
curiosity. She begins by commenting on the company logos, and I wonder if that’s what
But while Maguire is genial and sometimes informative, she too often points out the
obvious; like this is so and so, wonderful actor who plays such and such. What’s
missing is the sort of insight that takes us inside the process more intimately. But
it’s orderly and occasionally trivia-rich. She does engage some of the time, like the
comments around the scenes where Bridget tells Cleaver she is about to quit – for a
job in television. I also thank her for letting us in on the fact that she gets letters
from people who actually hold blue soup parties, in tribute to that dinner party scene.
It’s not easy, doing these commentaries, especially winging it while watching your
first movie on a screen in a recording studio. And the fact is, having the director talk
you through their movie, even if it isn’t riveting or wondrous, is still a whole new
experience well worth the time.
Andrew L. Urban
Published December 6, 2001