Friday 9 December 2016

Caitlin McBride: Why there's no place for Bridget Jones in modern society

Published 13/09/2016 | 09:47

Renee Zellweger as Bridget in Bridget Jones's Baby
Renee Zellweger as Bridget in Bridget Jones's Baby
Renee Zellweger, left with Patrick Dempsey, centre and Colin Firth, right as in Bridget Jones's Baby
Renee Zellweger as Bridget in Bridget Jones's Baby
Pagtrick Dempsey and Renee Zellweger in 'Bridget Jones's Baby'

I never bought into the cult of Bridget Jones.

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I never read the books, I enjoyed the first film as much as anyone and like most others, I didn’t bother with the critically panned sequel Edge of Reason.  So I wasn’t expecting much from the latest instalment – Bridget Jones’s Baby, set 12 years later.

The storyline was solid and at moments, laugh out loud funny with tinges of emotion; but too much has happened in the last 12 years for Bridget Jones to catch up with in one film and the film’s compulsion to appear relevant to modern viewers fell flat.

Instead of writing in her iconic diary, she made notes on her laptop. She works as a producer for a Newsnight-style programme, but her station is infiltrated by clichéd versions of hipsters with ironic moustaches who are there to cull staff over the age of 40.

Renee Zellweger as Bridget in Bridget Jones's Baby
Renee Zellweger as Bridget in Bridget Jones's Baby

Instead of her internal monologue, her thoughts are written in text speak onscreen, a mechanic which bizarrely disappears halfway through the film in favour of old fashioned dialogue.

And don't get me started on the music. 

While dancing at a party to Gangnam Style, a song released in 2012, much is made of Mr Darcy’s inability to comprehend modern music, although there is nothing modern about the one hit wonder that is Psy.

While the Glastonbury scenes were uncomfortably dated (you have to wear denim shorts at a festival! And do shots! And everyone is having sex in their tents!"), I couldn't help but scratch my head at the idea of a woman over the age of 18 packing a pink Guess suitcase for anything at all.

It’s at the festival that she and a colleague meet an A-list celebrity who they “hilariously” don’t recognise. No, the tv news producer and 30-something anchor couldn’t possibility recognise this person.

Similarly, a man who established a mathematical algorithm to find love was genuinely shocked to be asked if he was on Tinder.

The old and new merge poorly in the latest chapter of this series, beloved in the early 2000s, fails to dazzle on 2016’s stage.

The character of Bridget was created by writer Helen Fielding for The Independent in 1995, pre-smartphone, pre-contouring and pre-Tinder.

Renee Zellweger, left with Patrick Dempsey, centre and Colin Firth, right as in Bridget Jones's Baby
Renee Zellweger, left with Patrick Dempsey, centre and Colin Firth, right as in Bridget Jones's Baby

It had its detractors then, but undoubtedly had mass appeal. The first film became a modern classic, the second most pretend never happened, but the third is a tired format which will succeed because of a loyal audience blinded by nostalgia.

The Bridget Jones of yesteryear was relatable – always fighting that extra five to 10 pounds, looking for long-lasting love, stuck in an apartment she used to detest.

Now, she’s skinny, her quest for love is somewhat more successful, or “there’s life in the old dog yet” as she says, and she seems to love her flat more than any man.

Whether it was purposely done or not, to the younger viewer, the implication throughout the film is that Bridget is out of touch with the modern world.

And in this case, some things are best left in the past.

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