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"I'd be interested in playing more outlandish people. Psycho-killers, say; but there's enough of that in the world, too....I dunno. "  - actor Noah Taylor
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A London publisher’s publicist, Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) is thirty-two, plump, single and determined to change her life. She decides to keep a diary, lose some weight and find that elusive Mr Right. While her dotty mother (Gemma Jones) attempts to set her up with suitable bachelor Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), Bridget fantasises about romance with her handsome and enigmatic boss Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant). With best friends Tom (James Callis), Jude (Shirley Henderson) and Shazza (Sally Phillips) offering their often wayward counsel, Bridget becomes entangled first with Daniel and then Mark before discovering that the two men share a bitter rivalry from the past. In the midst of confusion, crossed wires and too many vodkas, can Bridget make sense of the madness and find true happiness?

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 view.

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 above).

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 prompted it.

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

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You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia



CAST: Renee Zellwegger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth

DIRECTOR: Sharon Maguire

RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: December 5, 2001

SPECIAL FEATURES: Original Widescreen presentation, Audio Commentary by Director Sharon Maguire, Behind-the-scenes feature, deleted scenes, "Bridget Jones's Articles" - Actual Diary entries, "Killin kind" music video performed by Shelby Lynne, "Out of Reach" music video performed by Gabrielle, Animated menus, Picture Disc, Theatrical Trailer

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