Bridget Jones’ Baby (2016)
Movie makers do not admit it publicly, but there have always been ‘women’s films’ and ‘men’s films’. Historically, the film industry catered more to the male viewpoint by favouring action drama but in the post-feminist era the female perspective is prominent. The Bridget Jones franchise is part of the shifting cinema landscape where along with other sisterhood films like Absolutely Fabulous (2016), Maggie’s Plan (2016) and Embrace (2016), women’s uniqueness is celebrated while men are sidelined. Seeing Bridget still fighting her demons as a loveless and childless 43 year-old is an unlikely sounding plotline, but Renee Zellweger pulls it off with intelligent hilarity and ruthless tugs on heart-strings.
The story premise lies in the film title: Bridget Jones’ Baby. Now a successful television producer, Bridget is a lonely celibate still longing for her Mr Darcy (Colin Firth) who married someone else. Her inner-circle girl-talk is liberally peppered with phallic references and Bridget is told she needs to get laid to get real. At a camp-in music festival, which includes a hilarious cameo by Ed Sheeran, she ends up in the bed of a stranger called Jack (Patrick Dempsey). It is not long before she also ends up in Mr Darcy’s bed, so of course when the pregnancy kit shows positive she doesn’t know who is the dad.
Muddle-headed before pregnancy, her antics while eating for two are borderline zany but always endearing. Bridget is torn between fantasy options: the romantic machismo and good humour of Jack versus the imperiously handsome Mr Darcy with eyes that make words redundant. Through it all, Bridget is still the lovable awky girl we met long ago, still stumbling through life like in a montage of slapstick sketches where her cute squinty smile wins every time.
There are not many laugh-out-loud romantic comedies that have storylines funny enough to hold your attention for two hours. This one works because it has the twin propulsion of being both personality-driven and plot-driven, liberally splashed with grown-up gags and plot twists. There is a strong cast of well-known actors and the filming across various London locations is sumptuous. The over-thinkers might wonder if we will ever move beyond Jane Austen’s “truth universally acknowledged” that a woman’s destiny is in the arms of a wealthy man. But this is not feminism; it is pure entertainment that is delivered in spades, and you can expect to leave the show cheering that Bridget got her man.
Director: Sharon Maquire
Stars: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey