A few weeks ago, I was dragging my heels in the local library. I stumbled upon the French books and decided to pick something new, or at least new to me. Pity that the selection was so tiny and so obvious (Le Rouge et Le Noir for God's sake, who has studied French literature and hasn't read that one?!) that I had to resort to Le Journal de Bridget Jones or Bridget Jones's Diary. I know, you'll wonder where I have been for the past, oh I don't know, twelve, maybe thirteen years? I know that Fielding's novel is the original chick lit but I cannot say that even its standing as supreme crap-a-rola for girls ever enticed me past the back cover.
In French though, it seemed different. Indeed it seemed almost impossible that a male-obsessed, occasionally silly little fatty could even exist by virtue of tongue-relations in the land of the stick-thin and of le petit macaron. Of course France isn't all super-stylish and skinny my friends, I've lived there, but the myth persists, undeterred by statistics that trumpet les français too are getting fatter by the minute. Yes, but... you know statistics... two people, four slices of cake, one person eats three slices, one person eats one, statistics tell us that they both had two each. Moral of the story: proceed with caution when in France, chances are everyone you meet will still be thinner than you and everyone you know from home, minus twenty pounds.
But I digress because Le Journal de Bridget Jones may be in French but the story is still très anglaise. In truth though, I have nothing piercing to say about Bridget Jones, in this or in any other language. Of course the effervescent musicality of French means that banal pieces of information très obvious to any Briton sound like philosophical musings delivered by a witty, upper-class professor, see this bit right here:
Bref, tout le monde célèbre cet été exquis alors que je me morfonds. C'est peat-être la faute de notre tradition climatique. Nous n'avons pas la mentalité qu'il faut pour jouir du soleir and du ciel sans nuages qui sont pour nous des accidents rarissimes. Devant ce phénomène traumatique, nous paniquons: un instinct puissant nous dicte de fuir le bureau en courant, de nous déshabiller le plus possible and de nous coucher, a bout be souffle, dans l'escalier de secour.
The rest is a mix of slight vulgarity and same old same chick idiocy. Upon completion I was afflicted by a strong urge to watch the movie (and its sequel too, in one sitting). I realised then that, for all of the flack Hugh Grant (l'idiot anglais) and Colin Firth (he who only ever plays Colin Firth) normally get, the film-makers have taken a banal, average novel and have transformed it into a comical masterpiece I could never tire of watching. And I know that in the early days Bridget aficionados reeled at the casting of a then insignificant blondie as their fiesty (and brunette) heroine but the truth is, Renée Zellweger gives us a Bridget that is at once vulnerable, tender, intelligent, eventually self-assured, very funny and not at all vapid nor banal. In its very charming denouement Bridget Jones's Diary isn't chick lit par excellence any longer; it's a Hollywood miracle.