Friday, April 8, 2011

Have You Met Miss Jones?

Tomorrow, I'll be co-leading a writing workshop for Girls Write Now, the volunteer program I'm a part of that pairs pro women writers with teen mentees. The workshop is on screenplay adaptation which means I've spent a lot of this past week thinking about them.

As I've mentioned before, it's very rare for me not to come out of a movie and think "the book was better." But there ARE some exceptions to that. One of which is the great and powerful...Bridget Jones's Diary.

I happen to love the book and the movie equally (and a lot). AND the two are very different from each other. So, how can that be?

First of all...the book. Bridget was a groundbreaking character, a really unique voice, and she helped usher in a certain genre of British chick lit for sure. She was also hilarious. That's one of those books that makes me laugh out loud every time.

But if you think about it, the book is literally a diary and almost all of its humor comes from Bridget's internal voice. Not so easy to adapt into a visual medium.

So the screenwriters Andrew Davies (of BBC Pride and Prejudice fame), Richard Curtis (of Love Actually fame) and Helen Fielding (the author herself) had to change some things around to make it work. One of the biggest changes, I think, was in Daniel Cleaver's character. In the adaptation, Daniel is much more of a cad than he comes across as in the book. He's also set up as much more of a rival to Mark Darcy. Making an archetypal character and conflict like that are great for screen adaptations (when they're done well, of course).

And then there's the casting. Could there be any two people more perfect to play Daniel and Mark than Hugh Grant and Colin Firth? I also know that Renee Zellweger's casting was highly controversial (especially for Brits). But I actually think she did an excellent job of conveying Bridget's lovable loopiness. Plus, I think the film uses its soundtrack to excellent effect.

The main thing is the film is just as funny as the book, even if it uses some different jokes and set ups, and it gets across the same tone and themes.

An excellent week's progress, Bridget. Or, er, you know, however long it took Fielding, Curtis and Davies to write that screenplay!


  1. I have not seen the movie, but the book...I've read the book at least 5 times. Yes, ALWAYS makes me laugh.

  2. mind stepping outside?