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Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

(Beeban Kidron, UK/USA, 2004)


 


One of the best scenes in this sequel to Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) involves a culture quiz. As partner of Darcy (Colin Firth), Bridget (Renee Zellweger) finds herself in a frightfully aristocratic setting where almost every quiz question depends on an intimate knowledge of high art.

Only when the final questions turn to the Trivial Pursuit level of trashy pop culture (Madonna and Footballers’ Wives) can Bridget turn the tables on this toffy crowd and come into her own.

Class differences are much on Bridget’s mind these days – especially as the union with Darcy, as heavenly as it is in the shag-fest department, multiplies the likelihood that she will embarrass and humiliate herself in public. The Bridget Jones movies depend, first and last, on this relentless comedy of humiliation, tied to the possibility that, at last, our heroine may experience a single, redeeming instant of grace.

Like the Spider-Man films, the Bridget Jones cycle runs the risk of running through life’s developmental milestones too quickly. Bridget Jones’s Diary took Bridget from the anxieties of being a single girl through to her discovery of the Perfect Guy. The Edge of Reason – a title which makes precious little sense – plunges this relationship into crisis in order to navigate Bridget’s path to a more middle-age-style maturity. If the series clocks into a Part Three, Bridget will logically be facing retirement-age dilemmas while barely scraping the age of forty.

On the other hand, of course, Edge of Reason is content to simply replay, as closely the possible, the triangular tug-of-war involving Bridget, Darcy and that unrepentant cad, Daniel (Hugh Grant). The latter has abruptly graduated to a position of stardom within the very world that Bridget inhabits – magazine-style television journalism. So these ex-lovers are thrown together in exotic locations for a new TV program, just as the relationship with Darcy hits a bad patch.

Much of this film is highly enjoyable in a breezy, lightweight, episodic manner. However, while the production company Working Title has thrown its best writers (including Richard Curtis and Adam Brooks) at this project, the limitations of the source material (Helen Fielding’s best-selling novel) finally prove insurmountable.

The comedic set-pieces are well in place here, but the plot complications do not quite come up to snuff. A little dose of confusion in the gender and sexual orientation department late in the piece (doubtless encouraged by director Beeban Kidron of To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar [1995] infamy) does not convince.

Even worse, a prolonged interlude in a Thai prison – where Bridget teaches the locals how to successfully mime to "Like a Virgin" – is a disastrous and rather offensive misfire. Especially when she waltzes out to freedom, handing out gifts to the grateful lifers including copies of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.

MORE Kidron: Antonia and Jane

MORE Curtis/Working Title: Wimbledon, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral

© Adrian Martin November 2004


Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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