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‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason’ – Making a Case for an Underrated Sequel

For many people, the original Bridget Jones’s Diary is the quintessential rom-com. With its self-aware narration, unadulterated humour, and wild characters, it’s become a cult flick loved by those who enjoy an occasional night in with a tub of ice cream. It was only recently that I finally sat down to watch it; it’s one of those films people gawk at hearing you haven’t seen – so I thought it was time. While I thought the film was alright, I didn’t expect to put on the sequel a few nights later and be ready to fight to the death over its marked reputation.

The Edge of Reason was for many a disappointing follow-up, but I can’t understand why. It takes everything Bridget Jones’s Diary did, sucks out any semblance of realism, and hands you back a plate of raunchy ridiculousness. Not so ridiculous that you have no intention of following the story, but enough that every turn is full of melodramatic flair and punchy humour. With none of it being mean-spirited or particularly cynical, I see no reason for The Edge of Reason to be a guilty pleasure, instead of just a pleasure.

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Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver and Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones.

With a soundtrack that couldn’t be more on the nose, the pieces fall into place for the narrative to allow Bridget to fall back into old habits – which are worrying about her love life and making a fool of herself in public. Renee Zellweger performs said habits to absolute perfection. In a role that feels made for her, she’s magnetic. Bridget is so funny and preposterous that you almost can’t take her seriously, but she harbors thespian talents too. Her obsessive nature, which throws real-world quarter-life crisis’ into the mix, paves the way for enough drama to level her out into a relatable, yet strange, character.

“And by the way, I know exactly where Germany is. The question is, do you know the location of your arsehole?”

With her delivery and ability to say goodbye to dignity, Zellweger is a talent. Such bashfulness and the will to get silly are especially useful here, because as expressive and articulate as Bridget is, she’s prone to doing things like declaring her discontent for Tories in a room full of people who unmistakably belong to that political group, and is so self-involved she misses the fact the woman she thinks is having an affair with her boyfriend (Colin Firth’s Mark Darcy) is actually a lesbian who’s interested in her (best re-contextualising flashback montage ever?).

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Bridget and Colin Firth’s Mark Darcy.

While heavy romance can induce nausea, the handsome Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are steady as rocks in their second outings as Bridget’s love interests. With the roles now reversed, Grant’s dirty Daniel Cleaver is on the outside looking in. The nitty-gritty sexuality of his character remains intact, and I can think of few characters whose lies are more amusing to witness. Firth has his stoic and furrowed-browed lawyer Mark Darcy down to an art, and is like a statue in a storm, completely unmoving in the calamity around him. That isn’t to say Mark doesn’t care, but he has a stillness around him that is humorous next to Zellweger’s mishaps and misfortune.

While the writing of the film has been picked apart by those who found it lacking in the departments Bridget Jones’s Diary aced, the different tone and approach do well to open up new ideas and avenues for mayhem. But, if realism and subtlety being in short supply bothers you, this isn’t the rom-com for you.

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Bridget tripping at the beach.

Director Beeban Kidron’s follow-up has a becoming round-up of the cliché issues facing singletons in their 30s, but handles them with a lack of maturity that works in the film’s favour. Maybe I don’t hold the first film in high enough regard, but maybe The Edge of Reason is better than you remember, and deserves a forgiving rewatch.

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