New Year’s resolutions are the cornerstone of both the 1996 novel Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding and its screenplay adaptation of 2001. The heroine (played by Renee Zellweger in the film) starts off her year with good intentions toward making significant life changes–and a diary to keep track of it all.
The book, which Fielding acknowledges is based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, “…was an instant success, and Bridget became a ‘cultural icon,’ the quintessential ’90s woman trying to balance a career and a love life while contending with ideas about how a modern woman should look and behave” (Dallas News).
Primed by the novel, many flocked to see the movie when it came out several years later. Stephen Holden (New York Times) elaborates further on Bridget Jones’s Diary: “Bridget Jones, in case you didn’t know, is a 32-year-old bachelorette who works in a London publishing house and frets with sad amusement about her increasingly iffy prospects for finding a long-term relationship. Summoning up her shaky willpower, she decides to adopt the usual self-improvement regimen to make herself more desirable. She will lose 20 pounds, cut down on alcohol, cigarettes and sweets, and land the boat of her dreams. Her diary entries are prefaced with meticulous records of her progress (and lack thereof) in achieving her stringent numerical goals.”
One of Bridget’s best features? States Holden: “…(E)ven when downhearted, she maintains a rueful sense of humor.”
Below is the film’s trailer:
In the end, although Bridget feels compelled to admit that she hasn’t made the changes she’d wanted and that her diary is “foolish,” there is a significant measure of progress–albeit against her own inclinations–in one specific area. She’s managed to stumble into a decent relationship.
And it’s this special man, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), who says the key words to Bridget that might make all those earnest resolutions seem not so important after all: “…I like you very much. Just as you are.”