Cut from the same cloth as "Notting Hill" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral", this much-anticipated film of Helen Fielding's bestseller about the year in the life of a single thirty-something woman delivers the goods in almost every department.
The public's affection for Fielding's Chardonnay-swigging chain-smoking lovelorn Bridget would be enough to propel the picture to the top of the box office charts. Throw in a delightfully witty script co-written by Richard Curtis, a deliciously unpleasant turn from Hugh Grant, and a cast filled with homegrown talent and the result is everything fans could have hoped for - and more.
Casting Renée Zellweger as the neurotic heroine was a risky move, but it's one that pays off handsomely. Listen closely and you can detect traces of American in her plummy Home Counties accent, but that's a minor cavil compared to the gusto the Texan actress brings to her defiantly unglamorous role.
Zellweger piled on the pounds to play the part, and her generous curves add an extra ring of authenticity to the proceedings. Colin Firth recycles his "Pride and Prejudice" portrayal as the aloof Mark Darcy, but it's Hugh Grant, cleverly cast against type as a scheming love rat, who steals the laurels in a role one suspects is far closer to his real character than the bumbling nice guys we are accustomed to see him playing.
Director Sharon Maguire treads a fine line between broad comedy and touching romance, while cameos from Salman Rushdie and Jeffrey Archer show just how much Fielding's creation has permeated popular culture.