Running Time: 107 mins
Rated: Rated M.
Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason opens six weeks on from where we left off last time. Bridget (Zellweger) is madly in love with Mark Darcy (Firth). This is the longest relationship Bridget has ever had, and so is accompanied with nagging self doubt and suspicion. Bridget thinks Mark is having an affair with Rebecca (Jacinda Barrett), a beautiful and smart new lawyer within his office.
In the midst of this romantic crisis, Bridget is sent on a television assignment to Thailand with her old boss and flame Daniel Cleaver (Grant). He is as lecherous as ever, plays on her vulnerability, and tries to seduce her. On the way out of Thailand Bridget is arrested for drug possession and Mark, the human rights lawyer extraordinaire, comes to her rescue.
If you liked Bridget Jones 1, chances are you will enjoy the sequel. It is beautifully shot, has another good sound track, and at 106 minutes director Beeban Kidron, whose work we haven't seen for a decade or so, paces the film very well indeed.
If you didn't like Bridget Jones 1, then don't bother with this film because they are now a successful franchise and writers Andrew Davies, Helen Fielding (who wrote the original novel upon which these films are based), Richard Curtis and Adam Brooks are reunited to give us more of the same. The script is filled with multi-layered characters, self-deprecating humour in the best English tradition, crudity, some violent language, and explicit sexual references. This time around drug taking and a major gay character are introduced as well.
Apart from the usual cinematic lie that sex equals love, it struck me more forcefully in Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason, that these films trade on a rather sad stereotype. Here is a 32-year-old woman who has emerged from being a secretary to a TV star and comedienne, who has good friends and a loving, if eccentric, family, still doubting her self worth because she needs a man to love her. And it seems that any man will do, for, early in this film at least, Bridget allows Mark to treats her very badly indeed.
The Christian tradition holds that as important as a man's love for a woman might be, and vice versa, she doesn't need that love to feel okay about herself, or to be a complete or whole human being. In fact, the true Christian love of another is always predicated on us loving ourselves in the first instance.
The ending of Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason screams at us that a third instalment will be on the way. I hope the writers let Bridget discover her innate worth, and allow her to see that the love of a man complements her personal dignity. Then it might have something more helpful to say to the teenage girls and young women who make up the vast bulk of the Bridget Jones' fans.
Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.