YPG Screening of Bridget Jones’s Diary: We Can Relate. Also, Colin Firth Is Dreamy.

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On August 29, a group of about 25 YPG women gathered at Penguin’s offices to watch Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’s safe to say that most in attendance were very familiar with the 2001 film, but several admitted that this was the first time they had encountered the Helen Fielding novel (Picador, 1996) on which the movie was based, and were eager to re-evaluate the movie having read its source material. (Or perhaps some were just eager to watch Hugh Grant and Colin Firth on screen for 97 minutes, which is also a perfectly understandable reason for attending this event.)

The movie was, as always, a delight, with winning comedic performances from the three lead actors and a satisfying conclusion wherein the right guy sweeps our heroine off her feet (lucky, lucky, lucky Renée Zellweger). After the credits rolled and talk turned to the novel, there was general agreement around the room that this is one of those rare examples of a movie version doing a story more justice than the original book. Several weaknesses in the novel as perceived by YPG members—Bridget’s shallowness, the underdeveloped relationship between Bridget and Mark Darcy, and Bridget’s problematic obsession with Daniel Cleaver, to name a few—were actually improved upon in the film. Renée Zellweger brought a sophistication and relatability to the Bridget character that didn’t exist on the page (fun fact: she was nominated for an Academy Award for this role), and the movie’s more consistent focus on Mark helped it avoid the disappointments of the book’s ending, which some described as “rushed” and “out-of-the-blue.” Given the movie’s creative advantages over the book, we were surprised to learn that Helen Fielding was on the movie’s screenwriting team, although it did explain why a number of lines were seemingly lifted directly from the book to the script.

The evening concluded with a broader discussion of the cultural relevance of Bridget Jones’s Diary sixteen years after it shone a spotlight on single women’s lives. Someone asked whether or not the same pressures on unmarried women in their thirties as described by Bridget Jones still exist today. The prevailing sentiment among those present seemed to be that things have gotten easier, but they’re still not easy. One member said: “You do get to a certain age when you start to wonder if it’s ever going to happen for you, if you’re ever going to meet someone. But at the same time, you don’t want to give in to the pressure and settle down with just anybody, because you know you deserve a Mark Darcy. We all deserve that.” Everyone sighed, and nodded.

The next Book to Film Club selection is Coraline by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins, 2002). The screening of the animated 2009 film adaptation will take place on Wednesday, October 24, from 7:00-9:00pm at a location TBD. Grab your copy now!

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