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Starring: Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth
Director: Sharon Maguire
Rated: M15+

I MUST admit I belong to a club entitled, “a little bit of Hugh Grant goes a very long way”.

Hugh always seems to play the same role – a daffy young Englishman who has a slight stammer and falls over his own eccentricities. It wears thin.

It is refreshing, then, to say how good at being mean and obnoxious he is in Bridget Jones’s Diary.

The screenplay started its life as an agony aunt column in The Independent newspaper in London. Each week Helen Fielding would ‘diarise’ about her angst over what it was like to be thirty-something, unmarried but desperate to be so. These columns have been published as two books and now we have a warm and funny film.

Bridget (Renee Zellweger) is the only child of an upper middle-class English couple who live in a quaint village and serve gherkins with pre-lunch drinks. She works in public relations for a book publisher in London.

She drinks too much, chain smokes and considers herself overweight. She has three friends who are her “urban family” but her love life has been a disaster.

Bridget’s mother tries to set her up with a lawyer, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). He is deadly dull and disapproving of Bridget’s goofy style. It is a disastrous meeting.

Bridget decides to start a new life, lose weight, stop drinking and smoking, and find herself a bloke. She also starts a diary.

Soon Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), her boss at work, notices her tight tops and short skirts. Daniel finds it hard to be a one-woman man, but Bridget repeats an old pattern and falls in love with him anyway. Mark keeps popping in and out of her life and Bridget hits the crossroads.

After a slow and laboured start this film grows into a delightful comedy with a warm centre. Bridget Jones’s Diary is filled with English understatement and self-mocking humour that gently prises open many of the big issues for the thirties generation – self-doubt, fear of commitment, confusing sex for love, and using drink to dull the pain.

The entire cast is excellent, but top honours go to American actress Renee Zellweger. Her English accent, demeanour and comic timing are perfect.

Colin Firth, best remembered for his turn as Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, is back as another more engaging Mr Darcy! It’s these sorts of touches that make this film so endearing.

Just one complaint. If the four-letter words were taken out of the script, this film would have been minutes shorter. There is no question that this generation likes to swear and curse, but it’s overdone here and will offend some viewers.

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