I’ve had a bit of a love affair with Bridget Jones ever since one night in 2001 when I sat convulsed with laughter near the front of the cinema. Perhaps it was because I didn’t get out a lot due to the difficulty of finding a free night and a babysitter to match, but whatever the reason, I found the film refreshingly funny. It wasn’t just the liberal use of the ‘F’ word and Colin Firth either. It was the heroine. Bridget wasn’t perfect she was hilariously flawed and her obsessions and fears were something I could easily associate with. From her struggles with losing weight and finding a partner to mastering the skills of turning on a microphone, public speaking and riding in a soft top… I’d been there and loved it. The film became a much quoted script that was so versatile, “something to go with anything for any occasion!’ Each time I had to stand up in front of a training session or meeting where there was a speaker system, I was so tempted to tap the mic and shout…”the mic’s not working properly!” On my 40th birthday, such was my love of the film, that my husband shamed me by hanging out a huge pair of knickers on the fairy lights greeting guests to the surprise bash. Thankfully my time as a local reporter had passed so there was no danger of me doing a Bridget down the pole of my local fire station, even if I did have a bottom the size of Brazil! When Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason, or Bridget Jones 2 came out it had lost a little of it’s appeal and freshness, so 15 years on, I was intrigued to see how the latest film, Bridget Jones’ Baby would fair.
Instead of watching it with an embarrassed husband disappearing into his seat in a cinema full of women, I went on a girls’ night out with fellow military wives to soak up the new Bridget and all she had to offer. Unfortunately, although it was funny, my dreams were shattered. Bridget and Mark Darcy had changed… what had happened? They had got older, more wrinkled and Oh, I don’t know, it was just all wrong. Suddenly, Bridget’s dizzy moments didn’t seem quite as funny third time around and her muddy face plant at Glastonbury not so endearing. As we left the cinema one of the girls googled Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth’s faces from 2001 and we all sighed with relief… so those were the people we knew, not these strange new faces that had appeared on our screen in episode three. For me the producers had waited too long to make this new film and perhaps we should have let Bridget rest where she was, safe in the arms of Colin Firth in her cardigan and knickers in a snowstorm.
One of the disturbing things about my reaction to an ageing Bridget Jones is the fact that I’m even older than the actress who plays her and yet I still feel pretty much 35. So, is my dislike of the new Bridget a sign of my own uneasiness about growing older and coming to terms with all that goes with it? It was Bridget’s imperfections in the first film that made her so endearing and felt like a breath of fresh air from the perfect heroines in many mainstream films. So, if imperfections are Ok, why not the imperfection of ageing too? Perhaps Bridget Jones Baby is a my wake-up call… I’m not going to be 35 forever, but that’s OK isn’t it?