Based on Helen Fielding’s novels, the Bridget Jones series has been popular. There’s something people relate to with Bridget continually determined to improve her life. The heroine has spun off from the pages to screen in two previously successful films. Twelve years after her last silver screen outing, she returns in ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’. As fluffily undemanding as ever, her exploits conjure gentle mirth instead of hilarity. Fans of the easy-going adventures should be happy with the newest offering challenging Bridget’s steely resolve.
The eternally love-lorn Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) is in a quandary. Recently breaking up with her ‘true love’ Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), she aims to focus her energies on her job as a news producer. Thinking life is going well, she meets handsome American Jack (Patrick Dempsey). Falling for his charms, Bridget learns she is pregnant. Unsure if Jack or Darcy is the father, Bridget’s life is thrown into a tail-spin while the men in her life battle to provide her with her longed-for ‘happily ever after’.
‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ plays like a romantic comic-book. Played in very broad strokes, it’s a fantastical comedy with cartoonish characters and ridiculous situations. It almost nearly doesn’t work but due to the performances it passes. Making it succeed is its abundance of charm recalling the likes of ‘Sabrina’ and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. Those films had strong female leads and while Zellweger is no Audrey Hepburn her winning personality and witty script overcomes any blemishes.
Of the cast, it’s Dempsey who should receive the most praise. He has the unenviable task of slotting into a film filled with established characters whilst making his own. He more than ably achieves this with his scenes opposite the always refined Firth crackling with genteel tension. Sharon Maguire directs with assurance, filming scenes with a glossily colourful palette. The humour is amusing without being crass and makes an effort to raise a few chuckles using wit than cringe-worthy vulgarity.
It may have been a long time between films but ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ is a welcome return of a beloved heroine. It may not provide constant laughs but it has a heart that many in the genre lack. No doubt it will cement the character’s popularity with the love-struck in the audience sure to sympathise with her predicaments.
Rating out of 10: 6
Based on Colm Toibin’s novel, ‘Brooklyn’ is another lush romantic saga. Admirers of the Mills and Boon romantic pot-boilers would find much familiar. Thankfully it isn’t as syrupy with an epic sweep masking any contrived situations. Chemistry is what’s important which ‘Brooklyn’ has in spades. Whilst the stirring love-lorn weepies of decades past are gone, what’s in its place isn’t too terrible if one enjoys watching others ride a romantic maelstrom.
Working in a small Irish town, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) dreams of a better life. Sensing this, her sister sends her to America. Settling in the city of Brooklyn, filled with a large Irish population, Eilis quickly gains employment and begins a romance with Tony (Emory Cohen). When a family tragedy occurs, she returns to Ireland where she meets young farmer Jim (Domhnall Gleeson). Soon her life is torn asunder as she becomes conflicted between two men who appeal to her ravaged heart.
‘Brooklyn’ is an interesting romantic film in that the strong love Ellis feels isn’t necessarily for the men but rather her old Irish home and her new American one. Torn between the love of her home country to the new, exciting Brooklyn environs, Ellis has to decide where her heart lies. The influence of Tony and Jim plays into this as they represent what she likes about both countries. These elements are very well handled by director John Crowley who uses the locations to their fullest potential.
Although some romantic clichés creep in, ‘Brooklyn’ swiftly settles into its own pattern. With a strong screenplay drawing you into the situations and solid performances, it moves away from Barbara Cartland territory with ease. Ronan’s role as Ellis adds authenticity as a young Irish girl reaching maturity in emotion and skill. You genuinely feel her character’s initial home-sickness and conflicted thoughts. All of this is effectively done without over-wrought musical cues with the subtle score allowing the strong story to shine.
Better than the usual commercial romantic films recently released ‘Brooklyn’ is worth seeing. Telling an engaging tale without the bells and whistles of fake emotion, it’s a good entry in an often mawkishly handled genre.
Rating out of 10: 7