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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Dutch, Portuguese
  Extras
  • 8 Deleted scenes
  • Audio commentary - Director Sharon Maguire
  • Featurette - Resolutions
  • Animated menus
  • 2 Music video - Killin' Kind - Shelby Lynne, Out of Reach - Gabrielle

Bridget Jones's Diary : Collectors Edition

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 93 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

A series of columns appeared in the British paper The Independent in the mid-'90s, chronicling the life of a 30-something 'singleton' named Bridget Jones, and all those in her path. Gathering remarkable popularity for their wit, wisdom and often depressing reality, they were inevitably turned into a novel that was released in late 1996, simply entitled Bridget Jones's Diary, and deservedly made author Helen Fielding a very well known, and most likely considerably rich, woman.

The to be expected (and mildly disappointing) sequel, Bridget Jones - Edge of Reason, followed in 2000, however that doesn’t really concern us, as the filmic Bridget Jones's Diary is heavily based on the first book, although it adds a few twists and turns of its own to deliver a few surprises for those that know the novel inside out and cover to cover. Based on a year in the life of our heroine, played by Texan Renee Zellweger, which had many (admittedly including yours truly) rather up in arms on being announced - honestly, just how could a Yank portray the quintessentially English Bridget? - we are treated to all her ups and downs following her first attempts at taking some control of her life by keeping a diary. She has but simple aims - watch her weight, avoid losers, no flirting and find a good sensible man. Ah, the best laid plans.

Bridget's world orbits around her three fellow singleton friends - or 'urban family' - the queen of the 'F' word Shazzer, Jude and former '80s one hit wonder Tom, as well as her Mum and Dad, her workmates at a publishing company and most importantly two men - her rather caddish boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), and the decidedly snooty Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). Her Mum introduces the latter at a Christmas party, and to say that the bubbly Bridget and the haughty, chisel-chinned almost Heathcliff-like Mark don’t hit it off instantly would be an understatement. Still, there's 'something' about the man, and indeed Bridget, that makes us pretty certain we'll be seeing more of him…

Ah, but after a round of rather salacious email to-ing and fro-ing, Bridget finds herself romantically involved with Daniel, who is everything her head knows to avoid in a man, however her hormones aren’t quite as ready to admit as much. She dreams of 'smug married'-dom and fabulous mini-breaks in the country with him, but when involved with a commitment-phobic male, well, the inevitable happens - still, at least the great sex wasn't a dream. In the aftermath she leaves her PR job to enter the world of telly, which brings Mark back into the picture. But Daniel isn’t that easy to get rid of - and Bridget's two would-be suitors also have quite the history of their own to add to the mix. Meanwhile, if personal love life dramas aren’t enough to deal with, Bridget's parents have split, with her Mum undergoing a mid-to-late life crisis and running off with an orange/red/purple-faced cable television shopping channel peddler named Julian, leaving her sweet and easygoing Dad in quite the despondent state. Then there are all those condescending 'smug marrieds' to contend with, the types who know they're set (after all, they have somebody to do stuff with, right?), the dinner parties where those dreaded four words, "how's your love life?", always seem to come up, and those hideous and all too common lonely nights when your only company is jim-jams, Tim-Tams, telly, wine and a packet of cigarettes. Just what is a modern girl to do?

"This calls for some really tiny knickers!"

Any fans of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice should find something rather familiar about the whole Bridget story, and in fact Fielding has admitted that she borrowed heavily from the classic tale. There are knowing nods and blatant steals peppered throughout, and the fact that Colin Firth played Mr Darcy in the last British-made TV series of Austen's work and is now portraying one Mark Darcy is not a coincidence. This film version of Bridget Jones's Diary stays remarkably faithful to the spirit of the novel, with its brilliant, sometimes frighteningly realistic, portrayal of the life of a singleton. The screenplay was written by Fielding herself, with some intervention from Andrew Davis (who was involved with the writing of, surprise, surprise, the televisual Pride and Prejudice) and Mr Black Adder/Four Weddings/Notting Hill himself, Richard Curtis. This makes for a near perfect blend of comedy and romance, with just a dash of drama thrown in here and there for V.G. measure.

After all the initial doubts, and with SO much riding on her performance, in the end Zellwegger does so well in her role she actually almost becomes Bridget, so much so that it is hard to imagine anybody else filling her shoes, which is certainly intended as a compliment, even if it isn’t the loftiest of aims in life! It's also SO refreshing to see Hugh Grant in a role where he's NOT a simpering, tongue-tied buffoon, and indeed he takes on the task of bringing the often rather dastardly Daniel to the screen with quite some relish. It could be argued that Firth is just a little too aloof in his Mark Darcy-ness, however he does get to show a bit of a twinkle every now and then, and does end up being much as you would imagine him from the book. So with the three core actors superbly cast, all that's left are the supports - and everybody puts in stonkingly good performances, with Bridget's Dad (Jim Broadbent) and her 'urban family' (Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson and James Callis) being particular standouts. And all under the watchful eye of debutante director Sharon Maguire, who we will surely be seeing a lot more from if the all round success of this first effort is any indication.

  Video
Contract

Let's see now... 2.35:1 anamorphic - V.G.
Layer change in a quiet bit and virtually unnoticeable - V.G.
Beautiful, rich and clear colour - V.G.
Sharp and detailed vision, without anything worth commenting on in the way of shimmer or aliasing - V.G.
Spot-on black levels and superb shadow detail - V.G.
No graininess - V.G.
Only two or three tiny specks throughout the entire film - not V.G., but vastly preferable to discovery of cellulite...

  Audio
Contract

The 5.1 track on offer here doesn’t serve up a lot in the way of engulfing surround usage, however it does get used effectively when called for. Pleasingly the subwoofwoof gets a fair bit of subtle action, mostly in beefing up the music ever so politely, but usefully. Everything is as clear as a button, understanding the dialogue is never an issue unless you can’t get your head around mild English accents, and the synching is divine. In all, whilst not exceptional it is still V.G.

Composer Patrick Doyle provides an orchestral score that whilst often sweeping is never overblown. It shares the stage with a mostly rather bland, and obviously targeted at the presumed 30-something market, soundtrack (we don’t all lose musical taste when 29 goes away forever!), featuring the likes of Pretenders, Art of Noise, Chaka Khan, Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin, Robbie Williams and Slapper Spice's utterly pointless assault on It's Raining Men. Naturally that old chestnut Me and Mrs Jones makes an appearance, which is predictable, but justifiable considering.

  Extras
Contract

A rather curious, and not entirely apt animated menu, which comes across much like the intro to one of those weekday morning television advertorials masquerading as programming - and annoyingly is unable to be skipped - gives us some tasty extras. Hopefully they aren’t too fattening...

Director's commentary: Newbie director Sharon Maguire gives quite good commentary. The usual stuff is covered - casting, D.Y.N.s, time constraints etc, however she also goes into detail about scenes that were improvised, manages quite an amount of name dropping and discusses the delicate balancing act between romance and comedy - and how to avoid making things "eggy". There's a V.B. and rather confuddling edit midway, where she's chopped off on starting to say something, and then says basically the same thing in a different way (V. Sloppy), and intriguingly the commentary is for the U.S. version as at the end she's pointing things out about different vision and music to what we are seeing and hearing! Still, it's more enjoyable and engaging than your average, run of the mill, commentary.

Featurette - Resolutions: Just under ten minutes in length, this diary-themed promo piece manages to stuff a lot more in than your usual puffy plug-fests. The standard type formula is pretty much adhered to - interview snippets with the director, author and principal cast, a few film clips and behind the scenes shots - however this differs from many such presentations in that it includes some genuinely interesting information. The furore over casting a Texan as Bridget is discussed, as is author Fielding actually admitting how much the story is based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Music video - Killin' Kind, Shelby Lynne: (3:22) A rather vividly colourful, faux 2.35:1 presentation, featuring nods to the film and a twang-voiced Shelby lolling around rather awkwardly - either she was V. nervous or V. drug addled.

Music video - Out of Reach, Gabrielle: (3:27) Pretend 1.85:1 this time, Gabrielle mimes her pleasant enough ditty whilst pining for a bloke. Once again there are tie-ins to Bridget included.

Original Bridget Jones's Diary entries: A few of Helen Fielding's original columns selected from Britain's The Independent newspaper. Those who have read the books will enjoy these, while those who have only seen the film will get a better idea of what it was inspired by.

Deleted scenes: Eight deletions totalling twelve minutes, in anamorphic 2.35:1 (V.G.!) but with only Dolby Digital Stereo sound. All of these have their merits, rather than being those kinds of chops that you simply know why the axe was wielded. An extended one with Bridget and a sports-obsessed Daniel is particularly fab, and we also get the alternate ending footage that was released in the US, featuring Bridget and Mark as youngsters at a certain party that's mentioned in the film.

What, no trailer? V.B.

  Overall  
Contract

How can you go wrong with this disc? Superb picture quality, perfectly adequate sound for something with no explosions, a decent and V.G. quality selection of extras and one of THE most brilliant films of 2001. Confusingly we're given the wussy, Nancy boy ever-so-slightly cut British version, where one utterance of a certain 'naughty' word beginning with the letter 'c' has been altered to 'cow', yet the commentary track features the original word in all its 'glory'.

Often depressingly mirroring real life for so many, or even serving as a reminder of what could have been/was for others, to sum Bridget Jones's Diary up as simply one girl's tale of tiptoeing through the minefield of 30-ness in hopes of avoiding becoming a tragic spinster would be kind of accurate, however this would most likely get it lumped firmly in that dreaded-by-some category of 'chick flick'. Well guys, to dismiss it as such would be a V. great shame, as you'll be truly missing out on a sublimely brilliant at times comedy that even has a touch of sport, a spot of the old rumpy-pumpy, lots of naughty words, fabulous knickers and a big fight (ooh, look at the eyes light up!) Suffice to say that every bloke I know who has seen it, even those that I didn’t have to coerce into it myself, have all come away raving about how much they loved it, so if you don’t trust the words of this chick, perhaps the reactions of your brethren will convince you?

Now if only something as simple as starting a diary could get my life sorted...


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1148
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      And I quote...
    "Weight: Not telling! (V.B.)
    Alcohol Units: 4 (could be worse)
    Cigarettes: 17 (V. poor, but associated with above)
    Calories: Erm, next… (V.B.)
    Watched flick called Bridget Jones's Diary - V.V.V.V.V.G.!"
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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