June 24, 2020
Garrulous and inappropriate, Renée Zellweger’s heroine drove home the farce of impossible, gendered standards. I couldn’t have had a better guide for my teen years
- Read all the other My favourite film choices
Bridget Jones loomed large over my early adolescence, by which I mean that a seven-foot-tall poster of Renée Zellweger in character hung behind my best friend’s bed. Bridget watched over us as we slept back-to-back at sleepovers, analysed whether it was worth spending 10p of precious phone credit replying to an SMS from a boy off the bus and built a brains trust of everything we knew about sex. Plenty has been written about how Helen Fielding’s creation is antifeminist and perpetuates outdated ideas about body image and marriage as the ultimate goal for a woman. But in many ways Bridget was a sound guide through those formative years.
Aged 12 I had already read the book, assuming it – probably not incorrectly – to be a kind of adult version of Adrian Mole. (I felt let down by The Cappuccino Years: Mole cooking offal in some restaurant was much less interesting than measuring his willy with a ruler.) It was rude and funny – I loved it. When the film was announced, I knew some people were annoyed that an American actor had been cast as Bridget but I had no idea who Zellweger was either way so I didn’t care. Plus my beloved Geri Halliwell was on the soundtrack: what could anyone have to complain about? The trailer quickly became a communal classroom obsession, the line “wanton sex goddess with a very bad man between her thighs – mum, hi!” quickly deposing childish Simpsons catchphrases, because pre-teen girls are ardent perverts.