After a brief prologue of humiliation, our heroine returns to her London flat where she'll "finally die, fat and alone, and be found three weeks later, half-eaten by wild dogs..." Which is when the soundtrack music reveals itself to be the opening of the supremely cheesy bathetic power ballad, All By Myself, a pop monument to maudlin-ity (that's country star Jamie O'Neal channeling Celine Dion, who either made the rights to her cover of the Eric Carmen original prohibitively expensive or wasn't up for being made fun of, a mere five years after topping the charts with what our narrator's voice-over subsequently refers to as "sad FM easy-listening for the over-30s").
The 2001 of it is clear in our first view of the apartment, with a boxy cordless landline phone in the foreground of the frame and Frasier (then at the peak of its 11-year run) on the telly, while what's tacitly time-transcendent about the scene is our heroine's quintessential lonely girl getup: red flannel pajamas spotted with white penguins, cigarette in one hand and TV remote in the other, as Bridget Jones sits forlorn on her couch - before popping up briefly to compulsively check for non-existent phone messages. Then a dissolve brings us into real time, the soundtrack now source music that's playing in her flat.
Bridget's got a rolled-up magazine in her left hand, a glass of red wine in her right - all those cigarette butts in the ashtray on the rug, meanwhile, and an abandoned copy of Holidays in Hell. Bridget sips, then gulps down the wine, and it feels like a singer's prep for a performance, her body moving subtly in rhythm to the piano figure that sets up the verse - and we cut in for a close shot to catch the grimace on actress Renee Zellweger's face as the full force of that undoubtedly cheap red vino hits her.
It's the guitar lick that gets her in, using the rolled-up magazine as guitar neck, plucking invisible strings with her glass-in-hand. When I was young, I never needed anyone... She half-sings along, really hearing this... And making love was just for fun... Those days are gone. And that line brings her close to tearing up. In the brief lull that sets up the next line, it seems Bridget Jones has fallen into the great black pit of self-pity. All by myself, she sings with the singer, yet on Don't wanna be - an unexpected reserve of resistance is suddenly manifest - All (finger point left) by (finger point center) my (finger point right, now with her other arm flung out) - self, any- more - !
Here, arms spread, really owning it, Bridget becomes the singer, triumphantly belting - and then she's the drummer, beating tom-toms and cymbal with both hands on the drum fill into that soaring, torchy chord reached under the pop-operatic peak of the long-held moooore...!
And as we cut back to the wide shot, it's certainly no accident that the writing credits come up (Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies, Richard Curtis), just as Bridget Jones, arms akimbo in her red flannel pjs, magazine-microphone in hand, embodies, as director Sharon Maguire put it on her DVD commentary, "feeling sorry for yourself and rather enjoying yourself at the same time," because what could be more of a perfect female wish-fulfillment fantasy than this meta-moment: not merely sorry me, but Based on a novel by - ! Now on the big screen!
In this moment, the apogee of illicitly enjoyable angst, that sweet spot where pop music and romantic comedy merge - it's the bittersweet pain we love to celebrate, laughing at the sheer over-the-top indulgence of it all - Bridget/Renee, singer and drummer and song at once, kicks into another chorus with her rock star couch potato white-socked foot, over the title: BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY.
All - by - myself! she belts, glorying in her puniness, arms wide, one open-palmed hand spread out to that great legion of fans beyond the footlights, while her dumb, squat phone, still plopped on the arm of her armchair is really the only one to hear her... besides the millions of lip-synchers, that is, sitting out here in the dark, for we have met the Singleton, and she is us.