Bridget Jones’s (New) Beginning

“How the hell did I end up here again?” It’s the first thing uttered by now 43-year-old Bridget Jones, and it rings true. How did we end up here again, watching our favourite foul-mouthed heroine, 12 years later? It’s a story that needed to be told, but that had to wait, just as Bridget has, for the right moment to have everything fall into place.

We meet Bridget on her birthday, still single and wallowing in self-pity as she blows out the candle on her tiny birthday cupcake. This is not how we wanted to find Jones, who after 15 years, is right back where we met her. But in order for this movie to have a plot, there has to be some sort of hole from which Bridget can hilariously emerge. Enter: a wild girls’ weekend to a Glastonbury-like music festival, a dare that ends in a one-night stand, a drunken christening party, a former flame, and a billionaire mogul. Viola! We have Bridget Jones’s next adventure and foray into motherhood.

However, the whole stereotype of wanting to settle down and get married is a bit overplayed, and it undermines Bridget’s quirky, independent, and good-natured spirit. Bridget wakes up to a Facetime call from her mother on her birthday who calls, not to celebrate and congratulate, but to lecture about “not needing a man to have a baby.” Really? If that doesn’t take the cake for a bad birthday, all of Bridget’s friends bail on her birthday plans via text message due to sick babies, canceled sitters, and overall parent duties. So, as she sits alone, ditched by mums and even her gay friend who flakes on her to finalize an adoption, we see that seemingly everyone in London has some sort of baby fever, and Bridget’s about to catch it. 

We see that over the past decade, while Bridget, as she notes, finally has her dream body, she doesn’t have her dream life. Our quirky Brit hasn’t come into her own and is still hung up on her past – Boo. She plays the victim in her own movie. But fortunately, she still plays her own heroine, in need of no man, though one could understand how she finds solace in the arms of her hunky lovers.

The men of this movie provide more than just DNA. Colin Firth returns as the emotionally-impaired and recently divorced Mark Darcy, while Patrick Dempsey joins the cast as billionaire American Jack Quant. It’s obvious that both of these men are too good to be true as they engage in the primal and masculine task of trying to one-up each other in order to prove themselves to Bridget. If only every woman could be in that position (sigh). 

Mark plays the hesitant, uptight father figure whose love is pure, but his once alluring mysteriousness is now sad as we realize just how important this baby is to the lonely Mark. On the other hand, Jack is the Silicon Valley mogul type who drinks green juice, attends music festivals, and believes breathing exercises are more effective than an epidural (yeah, right). Yet, he is very supportive of Bridget, regardless of the possibility that the baby is not his. And to be honest, no matter how much you ship Bridget and Mark, Jack and Bridget’s chemistry is real, too. 

This movie has you hoping the three of them will be a family together. The way the men begrudgingly work together to support Bridget is the heart of this movie. However, when decision time comes, old issues of commitment with Mark and new ones regarding Jack’s genuineness ultimately leave Bridget to question whether compatibility on paper measures up to the real thing.

Speaking of on paper, this Rom-Com checks off all the marks and is quite good in the way only a Bridget Jones movie can be. While her trials and tribulations are nothing new to the genre and you can predict the ending about halfway through the film, Renée Zellweger has a rare quality to make a story feel like it’s being told for the first time, through her eyes.

Regardless of the fact that Jones is surrounded by two men who seem to deeply care for her and welcome fatherhood, the movie fails to emphasize just how much Bridget is loved. She has old, dependable friends, new sassy coworkers, and a family who, despite their apparently genetic awkwardness, is well-meaning. No matter how many times she wants you to believe she’s on her own, there’s no other person who is loved more.

There’s no doubt that where the movie shines is in its honest relatability. Bridget shows again and again that you find your best self in your worst moments. Fortunately, I was the only person in the theater when I went, a sign I initially took as a bad omen to the movie’s appeal, but I was soon glad I was alone as I audibly laughed, cried, and painfully cringed over all of Bridget’s missteps. But perhaps the biggest question the movie tries to answer is whether to believe in second (or third) chances or take a leap of faith and try for a new beginning. And the answer is both. Bridget ventures into uncharted territory as a single mother, but has the support of her established community behind her. As for whether she believes in old love or new, that’s for Bridget to decide. But whatever and whomever she chooses, the audience can get behind her because, even 15 years later, there is a little bit of Bridget Jones in each of us.

Rating: 4/5

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