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Soundtracking: Bridget Jones's Diary

by Chris Feil

We have so many emotional ties to movie music that represents love fulfilled, love remembered, love not meant to be. As Valentine’s Day comes around, and with it annual love story rewatchings, we’re reminded of the “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”s and the “The Way We Were”s with sudden impact. But for some folks still waiting for their love story to begin, the reflection of their romantic reality gets foolishly less heralded. People like Bridget Jones...

Bridget Jones’s Diary gives us a romantic comedy soundtrack that embraces the perked ears and sad heart of love yet to be. Music is presented with as much fantasy for this singleton as we’re familiar with with onscreen lovers - adult contemporary tracks spark at moments of flirtation and sexual intrigue. Though our heroine Bridget’s musical heartstrings are struck just like the rest of us, she remains on the outside of the sentiment of those other famous movie love songs, or at least until the film’s conclusion.

The brilliance of Renee Zellweger’s performance lies in her moving and grounded ability to find truth in comedy, her ability to align our hopes and humiliations with Bridget’s. Music not so subtly plays an essential part of that in early moments. Embarrassment is a game at which Bridget excels, forever relatable in her missteps. Who among us has not drunkenly taken to a karaoke mic for a song beyond even our sober capacities - in front of a crush or not? With “Without You”, Zellweger makes us see our inner Bridget with visceral cringe.

Most famously, and the closest Bridget gets to her own definitive “love” song, the film’s early musical peak comes when the deflated Bridget finds solace in “All By Myself”. It’s a showstopper for the actress that’s also a step inside our most private lives. Air drum solos, operatic hand choreography, gesticulating with emotion from toes to top for an imaginary adoring audience wiping away tears in awe. Again: who among us hasn’t?

It’s a musical titan about stalled self-love in the face of crushing loneliness that has gotten the best (or worst) of us all at some point. Before the likes of “Because You Loved Me” feel like they belong to us, the “All By Myself”s make us feel less alone. One or two bottles of wine at a time.

But here, Zellweger is equally heartbreaking and hilarious for how she plumbs the human emotional depths and the histrionics of loneliness. It’s not how she physicalizes Bridget’s misfortune and sudden embarrassment that is real, it’s the equally pitched and lived-in sadness in her posture. Like the painful power ballad she mimics, the consuming power here is in the duality of extremity and nuance. (And all this a year before she would give a whole other side of musical dexterity in Chicago.)

Eventually Bridget finds the more subdued coziness of Van Morrison’s “Someone Like You” when she unites with Mark Darcy after further heartaches, but it is this musical moment that defines Bridget as we will remember her.

All Soundtracking installments can be found here!

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Reader Comments (8)

I relate this movie more to Christmas than Valentine's day. Such a lovely movie.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJorge

I love Bridget Jones's Diary! I adore Moulin Rouge!
If i have to choose the best use of soundtrack in a film, i would go with Bridget...
And that kills me...

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDoug

Got to see this screen a couple weeks ago. Renée really is perfect. The soundtrack’s perfect. A classic.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Fun soundtrack. I like the Sheryl Crow song, "Kiss the Girl."

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJJM

Fun soundtrack. I like the Sheryl Crow song, "Kiss the Girl."

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJJM

Plus the use of "Out of Reach" is superb!

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRM

Great soundtrack and Zellweger was simply terrific. It's ironic she won 2 globes for comedy/musical, but neither was for her signature role.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterpawel

Brain games are cognitive calisthenics, brain body-building, genius gymnastics essentially fun free online bejeweled 3 games workouts for your brain.

February 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRenus

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