The following was commissioned by Culture Fly
Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) is back and oh god, she’s pregnant. After a six-hour sexathon with Jack (Patrick Dempsey) and a reunion — that was hotter than anything in the 50 Shades Darker trailer — with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), our Bridget has found herself in a bit of a pickle. The film may use a who-is-the-daddy storyline as its dramatic drive and to cause a teeny bit of conflict between Mark and the newbie, Jack, but this third diary entry is all about Bridget.
Returning director Sharon Maguire knows this. We never leave Bridget’s point of view; when she is confused by Mark’s behaviour, we are confused by Mark’s behaviour. It’s a subtle directing trick and underscores what this story is all about, but her visual direction is flat and isn’t as vibrant as her heroine.
What a heroine she is. Maguire is loathed to leave her title character and her leading lady. From the first frame, Zellweger reminds us why she was Oscar-nominated for the first film and why it’s a shame she went on a self-imposed six-year acting break. She is bloody brilliant and we’ve missed her screen presence as much as we’ve missed Bridget.
The inclusion of the baby storyline twists the traditional formula and makes Bridget evolve. She no longer cares about being a singleton and it is refreshing to watch the film support Bridget’s realisation that she doesn’t need a man and that she can raise the child herself.
The storyline also gives Firth room to evolve Mark. His arc is probably the most complicated as he has to come to terms with the fact the love of his life could possibly have another man’s baby. Firth delivers, never being more charming, more Mr Darcyish. Purists may baulk, but jettisoning Helen Fielding’s third novel is the right move because everyone needs a slice of Colin.
Hugh Grant’s absence raised eyebrows. Could it work? The answer is both yes and no. The film stumbles straining for a viable conflict. The Mark-Daniel antagonism worked because they hated each other. The Mark-Jack conflict feels false because they could be good friends. The characters in Bridget Jones’s Baby are not perfect, both men make mistakes but are decent chaps. It’s refreshing to see a rom-com not split the romantic prospects into “arsehole” and “nice guy” and Dempsey adequately fills the romantic foil role. Even though the ending is inevitable, the audience will be okay with the possibility of Bridget ending up with Jack.
As Emma Thompson’s hilarious doctor reminds us, Bridget’s unique circumstances and warring fathers are comedy gold. The laughing never ends and people will leave the cinema having one of the funniest cinematic experiences they will have had all year. Whether it’s jumping around to House of Pain, struggling with her new boss or having a baby, Bridget should be proud of her ending, and she remains so relatable, she transcends demographics.