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'Bridget Jones' kerfuffle: When is physical appearance relevant to film criticism?

by AirTalk®

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Actress Renee Zellweger arrives at ELLE's 21st Annual Women In Hollywood at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills in Beverly Hills, California. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Twelve years since audiences last saw Bridget Jones searching for love, squeezing into Spanx, and ultimately triumphing over self-doubt, the loveable character portrayed by Renee Zellweger is back in a form that has inspired a plethora of think pieces about women in Hollywood.

Kicking off the kerfuffle, well-known film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote a reasoned piece arguing, essentially, Zellweger's looks - likely altered by cosmetic procedures - do not resemble what the character, Bridget Jones, would look like today.

In response, filmmaker and former actress Rose McGowan penned a scorching open letter to Glieberman writing, "You are an active endorser of what is tantamount to harassment and abuse of actresses and women." 

On AirTalk, we’ll focus on the relevance of physical appearance in film criticism. Performers’ looks are often put under a microscope, and not just by tabloids.

Mickey Rourke, Christian Bale, Jonah Hill, Melissa McCarthy, to name a few, have altered or used their physicalities in films to such an extent that it was a major component of their performances. How does that compare to the current controversy over Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones? And as any devoted Bridget Jones fan would wonder, isn’t it possible the character herself would wind up looking as Renee Zellweger does now?


Claudia Puig, Film Critic for KPCC and The Wrap; President, Los Angeles Film Critics Association; she tweets from @claudiapuig

Amy Nicholson, Film Critic for KPCC and MTV Chief Film Critic; she tweets from @TheAmyNicholson

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