Bridget Jones: On the Edge of Reason is an interesting case study in the modernization and adaptation of classic literature into modern contexts. The film is a sequel to Bridget Jones’s Diary, which is said to be a modern adaptation of Austen’s other classic, Pride and Prejudice. Both Bridget Jones films are adapted from novels of the same name written by Helen Fielding, who has herself declared her work as adaptations of Austen’s classic works.
Despite the fact that Bridget Jones: On The Edge of Reason (2004) has been cited as a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, the film has little to do with the classic novel. Instead, it alters the story to the point where the character of Ann is barely recognizable in Renee Zellwieger’s character Bridget. Much of the dismantling of Ann’s character comes, of course, from the very origins of the film. As an adaptation of an adaptation, Edge of Reason can barely be expected to hold up to every detail of Austen’s carefully constructed plot and characters. In addition, the film must deal with the fact that it is supposed to be a sequel to another movie based on a different Austen classic.
Critics argue that the main connection between Edge of Reason and Persuasion is the element of characters persuading the heroines to look beyond the loves of their lives due to minor, solvable circumstances. In Austen’s novel this can be seen with Ann’s initial rejection of Wentworth; in Edge of Reason Bridget rejects Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) because her friends have her convinced that he is becoming disinterested. In general, critics agree that Fielding’s novel, from which the film strays significantly, is a much truer adaptation of Austen’s work.
Though Edge of Reason cannot truly be heralded as the great modern adaptation of Austen’s Persuasion, the film is very well acted and the characters are multi-dimensional. Colin Firth, who coincidentally plays Mr. Darcy in the 1995 TV miniseries of Pride and Prejudice, Firth is obviously cognisant of his character’s love for the heroine and the chemistry is definitely there to back up the script. Zellweger’s acting keeps the material of the film fresh and adds a new spin to the familiar character of Bridget.
Bridget Jones: On the Edge of Reason may not be our first choice for a film adaptation of Persuasion, but it certainly serves as a pleasant distraction from work on a rainy afternoon.