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A strangely satisfying nostalgia fix
THE search for Mr Right is never easy - even if he's right there in front of you, displaying impeccable manners and wearing shiny armour. Just ask Bridget Jones, the eternal singleton with a dismal relationship record, bad fashion sense and low resistance to junk food. She's back on the big screen, still trying to make sense of life and love.
Bridget Jones's Baby is the third instalment of the series based on popular characters created by Helen Fielding, whose modern-day take on Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), set the original pop-culture tone, followed by the disappointing sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004). The new film, directed by Sharon Maguire and written by Fielding, Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson, endured a difficult gestation but in the end, familiarity breeds a limited sense of contentment.
Bridget (Renee Zellweger) has come to terms with the fact that, for different reasons, the two main men in her life - dashing human-rights lawyer Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and caddish publisher Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) - are no longer in the picture. With no other prospects in sight and middle age bearing down on her like a runaway train, she decides to do her ovaries a favour by bringing them out of retirement.
She's now a news producer at a cable TV channel and still an accident-prone (if noticeably slimmer) klutz, but when television anchor and colleague Miranda (Sarah Solemani) arranges a fun weekend camping out at a music festival, her sexual sell-by date matters not anymore and her non-existent love life suddenly takes off.
First, she's literally whisked off her feet by Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey), the dishy billionaire founder of an online dating site, who for reasons known only to himself finds her incredibly appealing. An anonymous one-night-stand in his well-appointed yurt ensues, and she sneaks off before even finding out his name.
Back in London, Mr Darcy re-enters the frame when she discovers that he is soon to be divorced - they end up in his bed for an old-fashioned re-coupling, as it were.
The road to true love is never easy for Bridget, of course, and there is to be no storybook romance - not when she discovers that she's pregnant and unable to answer a pressing question: who's the daddy? The first requirement is to find out the identity of that stranger she shagged. Then she needs to tell Mark that he has a 50-50 chance of being the father of her child.
Bridget's dilemma is the source of some amusement for her gynaecologist (Emma Thompson), who infuses the situation with a welcome dose of wicked straight-faced wit. "I don't want to go back and make the same mistakes," says Bridget. "I want to go forward and make new ones."
Once the information sinks in, both men are determined to be The One for Bridget, competing for her affections while attending pre-natal sessions and making visits to the doctor.
It all makes for a cheesy but charming movie, with a number of laugh-inducing moments. The level of suspense never rises beyond predictable but despite some marginal scenes and pregnant pauses in the narrative, Bridget Jones's Baby is a strangely satisfying nostalgia fix.