Indecent Proposals | The Nation


Indecent Proposals

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When Daniel inevitably betrays and rejects her, Bridget is forced not only to get over her broken heart but also to get a new job--because she can't stand to be around him. Getting screwed gets her screwed; though she didn't exactly sell her booty, now she's out on it. But before she leaves she publicly humiliates him, in a clever Tootsie-like outburst, cheered on by her female co-workers.

About the Author

Amy Sohn
Amy Sohn, author of the novel Run Catch Kiss (Simon & Schuster), is unattached at the moment.

Instead of mourning her state of unemployment she sees her situation as an excuse to look for a better job, and she winds up getting one, as a television producer. Her new boss puts her on the air, she snags (with some help) a good story and is catapulted to celebrity.

The high career status helps to empower her--when Daniel comes crawling back with his tail between his legs, telling her, "If I can't make it with you, I can't make it with anyone," she thinks for a second and then tells him she's "not willing to gamble my life on someone who's not quite sure.... I'm still looking for something more extraordinary than that." In the end she snags her extraordinary man, but, more important, she gets her act together, while Florence in The Center of the World may never do so.

One of the keystones of Helen Fielding's book Bridget Jones's Diary was Bridget's daily, self-flagellating listing of the alcohol, calorie and cigarette units she consumed. While the joke got stale after the first few pages, women related to this tallying, because it anchored its heroine in a sensual life. Like many conflicted single women, Bridget was a hedonist striving for self-control.

The film maintains sensuality as a theme: In almost every scene we glimpse Bridget coming into contact with the physical world. We watch her wriggle into her panties, inhale countless cigarettes, slurp margaritas through a straw, spoon down cereal, wax her pubic area, get dough on her face, fall on the floor. Some of the jokes play off as pale imitations of Lucille Ball but most of them feel hilariously true-to-life.

While most romantic comedies feature scenes in which the heroine falls on her ass (as Janeane Garofalo put it, all a beautiful woman has to do to be funny is fall down a lot or act stupid), the heroines never seem to get a hair out of place in the process. But Renée gets filthier than Julia, Jennifer or J-Lo. Bridget is literally a mess--unlike Florence in The Center of the World, who, in spite of the fact that she has sex in almost every scene, never gets mussed in the slightest.

The one Bridget Jones fluid we don't get to see is blood--that is saved for Glenn Close, whom Bridget, in a postdump slump, mournfully watches in Fatal Attraction on TV. As the quintessential psychotic single gal of the late1980s gets shot to death by her lover's wife, Bridget's eyes pop out of her head in bemused wonder. She seems to be saying, "Is this what's in store for me?" Yet her glance has a slyness that lets us know she's not really worried, that she thinks Adrian Lyne got it wrong, that Fatal Attraction was a piece of crap. The moment works as a comment on the future of women in movies. In the post-Bridget Jones era, women get to mock the misogynistic standbys, not live in them. With Helen Fielding rapidly eclipsing Adrian Lyne as an A-list Hollywood player, perhaps we'll see more films where pithy careerist single gals can meet ends cheerier than a bullet wound.

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