Sometimes I cannot help but feel sympathetic for the romantic comedy genre, constantly bombarded with products that depend on formula and ambitious casting to appeal to the mass market. Unlike the recent comic-book and young adult phenomenon, this is a genre that would never lose its appeal as it would forever be universal in its emotions and ideas; however, this is an area of cinema that finds too much precision in its target audience, hoping to aim to a singular brand of gender or attitude, which ironically narrows its appeal.
The greatest of romantic comedies have managed to remain standing in the test of time through its innovating techniques (Annie Hall), empathetic, challenging and engaging chemistry between its leads (When Harry Met Sally), or simply an inspired satire (Down With Love); these are films that aspire to rise above its competitors and is thoughtful of its long lasting appeal, finding sincerity in its emotions or sharpness in its message that actively stimulates its audience, I am tired of being a passive passenger of a train that stops in the foreseeable platforms, or if the film is going to remain within a formula, at least provide something in between that would ensure the connection between myself and its characters or story.
Bridget Jones’s Diary immediately allows itself to be foreseeable, once characters and complications are established; a woman entering into a new year and hopes to end the depressive and dependant state she is in, torn between the two men in her life on deciding which of them is deserving of her affection. Despite her thoughtful and times well-articulated entries, she is constructed with such a simplistic and far too accessible outlook that one needs not to peer in too deeply to find the essence of this character, she ultimately allows herself to be the device of a story and lead audiences to moments of ‘critical’ breakthroughs that pushes her further to her fated resolution.
As mentioned earlier, I am tolerable with such formula, especially if the film attempts to push its capabilities and provide something remarkable, at the very least sourced from its walking and breathing characters. Bridget Jones and her two polarising men lacks the chemistry from its performers that is needed to add a encapsulating and warm atmosphere to its significant scenes; highly necessary of a film of this nature where our protagonist is required to interact with them frequently in order for herself and the audience to determine the appropriate decision that would soon determine her fate. The characters carry archetypal personalities that is trivial of a film of this nature, which I have been able to forgive given the social expectations and circumstances, but rarely do they reward its audience for their complete investment; I found myself constantly tempted, some successful, in staring away from the screen and check my mobile device, knowing that missing even 10 minutes would not have deprived me from the potential breakthroughs that these characters could have.
It is such a shame since I admire Zellweger’s abilities as an actress, captivating me in Chicago and leaving me in laughter with Down with Love, and her performance here in Bridget Jones’s Diary, which also gained her an Academy Award nomination, was lacklustre; which could also be said for Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, whom I believe provide stronger performances in their concise contributions in Richard Curtis’ Love Actually, whom which has also been credited as one of this film’s screenwriters. I believe the cherished response that many of this film’s audience provided for is justifiable, and I am sure many of the genre’s descendants have taken inspiration from this and hopes to achieve the same level of success, but it doesn’t seem to hold its own ground as years pass, with the film slowly falling in with its forgettable peers, surviving only by its deep and dedicated fans.