As long as there have been female faces, there have been men around to be mad at them. See, the faces deserved it. They had too much makeup, or too little makeup. They didn’t smile enough; they smiled way too much. “You go to see a movie that features an actress or actor — in most cases it’s an actress — you know well, and somehow she looks … different,” writes Owen Gleiberman at Variety. “Her nose is thinner, or her lips are fuller, or her lips are thinner and her cheeks are bolder, or her forehead is younger, or maybe you can’t even quite put your finger on what the difference is, but you know it’s there.” The face in question is Renée Zellweger’s in the latest Bridget Jones’s Baby trailer. “I thought,” Gleiberman writes of the recent traumatic experience, “she doesn’t look like Bridget Jones!”
The man wasn’t always mad at Zellweger’s face. In fact, he used to like it: “Zellweger, as much or more than any star of her era,” he writes, “has been a poster girl for the notion that each and every one of us is beautiful in just the way God made us.” This isn’t entirely true: Men have been mad at Zellweger’s face for as long as it has been in public, possibly even before then. But to this man, that face, in the Jerry Maguire era, was “beautiful in the way an ordinary person is,” not in the way that “a Nicole Kidman or a Julia Roberts was.” (We are already mad at those faces — didn’t you know?)
And to be clear, this man is also not mad at the face of Bridget Jones, a fictional character, which he intends to distinguish from the face of Zellweger, a person. “The redemptive comic spirit of the Bridget Jones films is the passionate drunk-girl-next-door everydayness of Bridget,” the man writes, “a spirit reflected, at least in the first two movies, in the slightly slovenly, doughy-cuddly perfection of Renée Zellweger’s face.” Engaging in what you might call fanfiction, the man insists that Jones would have the same look 12 years after we last saw her. That’s 12 years: a time span during which any face, whether it belongs to a Hollywood actor or a fictional creation, will change (or be changed) — a time span, which, by the way, contains three different Spider-Men and at least seven Christian Bales. Zellweger’s face doesn’t get to inform her character; instead, it disqualifies her from the role.
“I just hope it turns out to be a movie that stars Renée Zellweger,” the man writes of Bridget Jones’s Baby, “rather than a victim of Invasion of the Face Snatchers.” In Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the source of this wordplay, aliens arrive on Earth and start replacing humans with emotionless pod beings. The film doesn’t really get into the details, but those imposters probably don’t age in the same way that humans do — perhaps, at a point, the replacements stop aging altogether, and keep the same faces for an eerie perpetuity.
We’d find a way to get mad at those faces, too.