Monday, May 09, 2005

TMI For the HEA

Last night I watched the movie, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Before I continue, I have to confess: I watched both this movie and it's prequel - Bridget Jones's Diary - without having read the books (something I normally hate to do as I almost always find the book better than the movie adaptation). So if I say something here that is completely counter to what the books put forth, tell me I'm wrong and I'll read the books.

Also, this entry contains SPOILERS for both movies, so if you hate being spoiled...I'll see you tomorrow.

Anyway, I watched BJ:TEoR last night with great anticipation. I loved BJD, loved Bridget herself, the goofy, clutzy, every-woman who in the end not only gets to shag (and I'm going to use that lovely British expression today to keep with the theme) an unusually sexy Hugh Grant but ends up with dreamy Colin Firth. I thought Renee Zellweger was inspired - those British worriers who believed casting an American actress for the iconic British working-girl role tantamount to heresay hopefully would agree. I smiled a lot as Bridget bumbled her way through her relationships suffering from a perpetual case of foot-in-mouth disease, picked through the story looking for the symbolism that tied it so loosely to Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, and generally had a grand old romantic-comedy time.

And even though BJD ended with a Happy Ever After for the hero and heroine - or at least, the potential for an HEA - I was glad they decided to make a sequel. I mean, who wouldn't be happy to have another two-hours worth of Colin Firth to watch?

But after watching the second movie, I have to say I'm disappointed. Not in the movie itself - I really enjoyed it. No, now I'm disappointed because my illusion of an HEA between Bridget and Darcy has been completely shattered. I can no longer buy the idea because, basically, I've been shown too much.

For those of you who haven't seen either movie (and again - WARNING: SPOILERS), Bridget Jones spent the duration of BJD disliking Mark Darcy (Firth's character), believing him to be an uptight, snobbish jerk. While she disdains Darcy, she engages in a wild fling with her boss, Daniel (played by Hugh Grant). When Daniel proves to be a complete scumbag and Darcy proves to have a good heart beneath his aloof facade, we all know who to root for, and in the end, when Bridget and Darcy share a passionate kiss, fade to black, I heaved a sigh of WAFFY pleasure. I left the theater completely satisfied, although not as satisfied as I might have been if Colin Firth himself had been with me...

The second movie picked up right where the first movie left off. Five weeks have passed and Bridget is blissful in her new relationship. But things don't remain that way for long. Bridget's insecurities teamed with Darcy's generally standoffish demeanor conspire to create major rocky moments between the two, and before she knows it, Bridget finds herself alone and on the verge of falling back into bed with the still-charming but still-a-total-git Daniel.

Like I said, I did like the second movie. I found Bridget just as goofily charming, Colin just as dang-he's-sexy, and even Hugh Grant was fun in his against-stereotype-Hugh-Grant role. I even liked the story, except for the part when Bridget finds herself thrown into a Thai prison for accidentally attempting to smuggle cocaine out of the country (a topic far too tragic and serious to be taken as lightly as it was, IMO).

Here's my issue. At the end of the first movie, Bridget and Darcy get together in what looks to be a classic HEA scenario. I completely bought this and was thoroughly satisfied. But after watching the two characters interact with each other in the second film, I can't buy that they would ever be happy together, at least not for the long term.

Because Bridget and Darcy are as different as night and day. Bridget is outspoken, awkward, giddily optimistic, and quite often completely inappropriate in what she does. Darcy, on the other hand, is reserved, stoic, always in complete control, and would never be caught dead making some of the social gaffes that Bridget manages. Throughout the entire first half of the movie, the look on Darcy's face when Bridget repeatedly embarrasses herself in front of his colleagues is a mixture of pain and disbelief. You can't see it on screen, but you just know that inside he is squirming with humiliation for her.

And when Bridget does bumble, rather than attempt to rescue her in any way, Darcy lets her flounder. Not only that, but he seems to actively avoid her company when they are in social settings with those Darcy sees as his equals. While attending a banquet full of impressive lawyers and political bigwigs, Darcy seats Bridget - his girlfriend and date - next to another man rather than next to himself. It's almost as if Darcy doesn't want anyone to know he and Bridget are connected in any way.

I found Darcy's behaviour towards Bridget cold and unacceptable, as did she. And she called him on it. He not only failed to offer an apology but chalked Bridget's dissatisfaction up to her own insecurities. Sure, Bridget's fears about herself did magnify the severity of what Darcy had done. But even so, I though he behaved like a complete boor.

Bridget holds firm to her disappointment until she's sitting in a Thai prison cell and hears horror stories from the other inmates about what *bad* behaviour they had endured at the hands of their boyfriends. Compared to physical abuse, forced drug use and prostitution, and slackary, Darcy's failings seemed ridiculous. Bridget begins to doubt her belief that she is entitled to a man who will treat her with respect both in private and in public, thinking that maybe Darcy wasn't so bad after all.

She's right of course - Darcy's transgressions were minor when compared to being beaten. And Darcy does pretty much move Heaven and Earth to get her out of the Thai prison. He is a good guy at heart. I would never disagree with this. And I have already mentioned how amazingly cute Colin Firth is, haven't I?

As you would expect, the two are reunited and the relationship reborn. Darcy proposes marriage, and we are to now believe that these two will indeed live Happily Ever After.

Except that Darcy will always treat Bridget like she's some kind of gunk that he has on the bottom of his shoe whenever they are in the company of those who Darcy considers his equal.

And Bridget will thank her lucky stars that a girl like her managed to land a great guy like Darcy.

I just never got the idea that Darcy in any way thinks he might be lucky to have Bridget in his life. He never once apologized or even acknowledged Bridget's rightfully-so hurt feelings over the way he had treated her. Nor did we, the audience, see any indication that he has any intention of changing. As far as we know, he will remain as he is while Bridget will work on her insecurity issues so she can accept his treatment of her. Her reward - Darcy has proven his love by asking her to be his wife. Hmmm...

I don't know. I liked this relationship a whole lot better before I saw more of it.

Perhaps there is a good reason that romantic stories end with a passionate kiss or a promise of marriage or moving in together or some other potential for future happiness. In a case such as this, perhaps ignorance is bliss. At least on the part of the viewer.

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