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banner Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Bridget lives up to hype
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
American Zellweger is convincing as British Bridget
By BBC News Online's Rebecca Thomas

Given the huge success of Helen Fielding's book, Bridget Jones the movie was guaranteed to generate excitement.

Luckily the final product more than lives up to all its pre-release hype.

Despite the book's female-orientated story of its Chardonnay-swigging, chain-smoking angst-ridden heroine, this hugely enjoyable comedy film will appeal to both women and men.

Fielding has worked with producer Richard Curtis - of Four Weddings and Notting Hill fame - to produce an abridged, more upbeat, version of the diary.

Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth in Bridget Jone's Diary
Zellweger with Firth as love interest Mark Darcy

The repetitive nature of the book - such as the cat and mouse courtship between Bridget and her boss Daniel Cleaver - is distilled into a fewer frisson-filled scenes.

More refreshing perhaps is that the screen version of Bridget, though concerned about her poundage, is nowhere near as obsessed as her literary original.

Though purists might object to this, there can be no criticism of the film's star, Renée Zellweger.

American Zellweger casts aside all pre-release doubts over her ability to play the British Bridget.

No trace of her native Texan twang mars her plummy Home Counties accent. Her performance is enhanced by the ease of her understated sarcasm and self-depreciating wit.

And Zellweger caps her authenticity by looking, most of the time, thoroughly dazed and dishevelled.

Hugh Grant as love rat Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones's Diary
Hugh Grant is a revelation as love rat Daniel Cleaver

Bridget also spends much of the film torn between her love rat boss Cleaver (Hugh Grant) or reliable lawyer Mark Darcy (Colin Firth).

Many females in the audience will undoubtedly leave the cinema feeling just as undecided. But there is more to Firth and Grant than mere hunk value.

Pride and Prejudice hero Firth again manages to smoulder behind a stiff upper lip in the way only he knows how.

He also masters the art of speaking volumes about his feelings for Bridget without uttering a single word.

But when it comes to lasting impressions, it is Grant who wins the day.

Gone is the floppy-haired, lovelorn fop we are so used - and tired - of seeing him play in films such as Four Weddings and Notting Hill.

Instead, Grant emerges revitalised and basked in a new forceful light as the unfaithful, sex fiend Daniel.

But if Grant's scene-stealing does not do it for you, there is a gaggle of strong support characters to enjoy.

Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent put on a strong sideshow as Bridget's warring parents.

And Sally Phillips - from Channel 4's Smack the Pony - is characteristically engaging as Bridget's foul-mouthed journalist friend Shazza.

Film critic Antonia Quirk on BBC Radio 4's Front Row
"It lacks the inspiration of brilliant comedy films"
See also:

17 Apr 01 | Reviews
Bridget Jones's Diary: Your views
26 Apr 01 | Film
Movie deal for Bridget sequel
06 Apr 01 | Film
US eager for Bridget Jones
04 Apr 01 | Film
How Renée became Bridget
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