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Thursday, 5 April, 2001, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
Hollywood babes go Brit

Arts correspondent Rosie Millard spills the beans on the aftermath of the Oscars, Bridget Jones and the new Thora Birch film for BBC News Online.

So those little golden men have been safely dished out for another year.

One assumes that they have all taken up their rightfully central positions on the mantelpieces at Crowe's ranch, Roberts' villa, Soderbergh's town house, et al.

Of course in time they will probably end up in the bathroom, or even under the stairs as with Vanessa Redgrave's pair, but for this month at least, they are on full show, minty-fresh and gleaming with the recipient's sweaty palm of relief.

Renee Zellweger (centre)
Renee Zellweger (centre) looked slimline again at the premiere in London
Because let's face it, it was more a night of relief, than anything else. Julia Roberts, Russell Crowe, Gladiator, Traffic - all the Oscar favourites came storming home on the night.

The only eyebrow-raiser was Marcia Gay Harden whose Best Supporting gong denied the Academy a familial love-fest with Goldie Hawn and her nominated sprog Kate Hudson, but never mind.

We had gushin' a plenty from La Roberts.

Meanwhile Hollywood has turned from last year's hits to the new releases and one imagines the pundits are rubbing their collective hands awaiting the cinematic incarnation of a brace of Yankee babes into convincing British chicks.


One imagines the pundits are rubbing their collective hands awaiting the cinematic incarnation of a brace of Yankee babes into convincing British chicks

Gwyneth did it - now its the turn of Renee Zellweger and Thora Birch to check out those sullen vowels, and Be British.

First, Zellweger, who lifts the somewhat troubled chalice of Brit heroine and cult singleton Bridget Jones in the film version of her eponymous Diary.

And has this film had a lot of pre-opening publicity, or what?

We heard about the accent, honed in the offices of Picador where Renee skulked undercover to perfect her British slang.

We heard about the weight, so selflessly gained so that no-one could spot that Bridget/Renee was actually a Hollywood fitness fanatic.

Practically everyone who has ever read Bridget Jones or known her creator Helen Fielding wrote articles about it in the papers.


If you are hoping for, effectively, Bridget Jones' Diary, direct to celluloid, then you will be disappointed

All this meant that when the show finally premiered in Leicester Square this Wednesday, expectations were high.

What can I reveal? Well, the film's a laugh. Not a huge rollicking festival of hilarity, but it is fun.

A pasty-looking Zellweger just about carries the accent off (bit too poshly for true authenticity, but a noble attempt), and Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are fantastic, both cast against type as a cad and a chump respectively.

Thora Birch in American Beauty
Thora Birch in American Beauty: Unnerving presence on and off screen
But if you are hoping for the wit, the girl-talk and the cameraderie of the original┐if you are hoping for, effectively, Bridget Jones' Diary, direct to celluloid, then you will be disappointed. Sorry.

Which leaves Thora Birch, starring in very British flick The Hole. Well.

Think Blair Witch crossed with Mallory Towers with a bit of Jagged Edge and you're there. Sort of.

Its a nasty thriller set in a posh mixed boarding school where the guys play rugger and the girls have to be "pretty and thin. Otherwise you're wallpaper".


At the press screening I sat beside Barry Norman in whom I confided my inability to sit properly through scary movies

One Easter Hols, four pupils bunk off the geography field trip, with ghastly results.

The Hole has a scary plot which is augmented by the most terrifying sound track since Hannibal. Now I know that's not long, but believe me, this film is frightening.

At the press screening I sat beside Barry Norman in whom I confided my inability to sit properly through scary movies. He smiled good-humouredly.

However after I leapt out of my seat for the eighth time I sensed him shifting around, clearly regretting sitting next to such an amateur.

Birch gives a full-on, high octane performance which is every bit as creepy as her turn in American Beauty.

She is an unconventional beauty in a sort of Christina Ricci-way and holds the picture in a vice.

Indeed, I bumped into her at a pre-Oscar event in Los Angeles where she was trying on a pair of Jimmy Choo stillettos and she looks equally unnerving in the flat Hollywood sunlight.

All right, its a namedrop - but only to flag up the fact that she's coming on BBC Breakfast News on Friday to talk about the film.

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