Bridget Jones's Diary is an update of Pride and Prejudice, with the heroine now a thirty-something London woman in search of a husband (or at least a steady boyfriend).Helen Fielding, author of the best-selling novel of the same name, collaborated on the screenplay. Like the book, the film is keenly observed, frequently hilarious (don't miss the opening credit sequence) and light as air. The key elements of the book are all present - Bridget's humiliations at the hands of match-making relatives, "smug marrieds" and employers; her loyal single friends (one of whom, Shazza, was inspired by director Sharon Maguire); the daily battles to keep her intake of booze, cigarettes and calories in check. The characters and settings are sometimes exaggerated, but they're always recognisable, and that makes them funny.
The pace of the film's final act slows with a prolonged contest between two suitors. Bridget's dilemma in the film is not finding and keeping a man; it's choosing between a womanising cad and a priggish stiff (named after Darcy in Pride and Prejudice). Unfortunately the cad keeps coming back, and despite Bridget's increasingly regular encounters with Darcy (my companion remarked at this point that London seems only to contain about 20 people), she stubbornly persists in misjudging him.
Colin Firth and Hugh Grant are fine as the male leads but, even with Grant playing against type, they're not interesting characters. Dominating the film is Bridget, played by Renee Zellweger, a Texan actress bravely taking on a British icon. She also proves Nurse Betty was no fluke - Zellweger is adept at maintaining an audience's sympathy, while adding depth to a seemingly straightforward role.The minor parts (Bridget's parents and friends) are vastly reduced compared to the novel, leaving top actors like Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones with little to do.