An occasion such as
Mr. Darcy Colin Firth winning an Oscar deserves an epic picture spam, accompanied by appropriate (or inappropriate, whichever fits) comments from one of the biggest little Firth fanatics on the planet. Sorry, guys — this one is for the ladies. And if you are a lady and you don’t care for my man Firth, well… there’s a short pier. Take a long wal–err, go for a latte. *cough*
This is where everyone who is anyone remembers him from — the A&E masterpiece adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. I don’t know if the Darcy drooling started when he walked into the room like a prat and insulted the heroine as only a stiff-upper-lip Brit can, or when he emerged dripping wet from a pond and startled a very … uh… interested Lizzie. That scene was not in the book. But it should have been. His most memorable moment? The proposal. Or should I say “the proposal from hell”?
Darcy: Lizzie, even though I have spent every waking moment avoiding and/or insulting you, I cannot help wanting to marry you.
Lizzie: … what?
Darcy: I know that you are way beneath me —
Lizzie: EXCUSE ME?
Darcy: — and that your mother is the most atrocious woman on earth —
Darcy: — and your father is a total idiot, and let’s not even start on your sisters —
Darcy: — but for some reason I cannot comprehend, I want you to be my wife.
Lizzie: …. die in a fire. Slowly. Here, let me light the match.
But, of course, Lizzie discovers that Darcy is not in fact a total asshat, he is completely sweet and compassionate and loving and forgiving (unless you tried to seduce his sister) and she marries him not only for his money, but also his fine house, which is something every truly educated and intelligent young woman should do.
One of his earlier movies, though, was Valmont, in which he played a shameless scoundrel who spent most of his time seducing women only to have one such plot backfire when not only does the woman in question fall in love with him, but he falls in love back. This is highly inconvenient for Valmot, who did it all just in an attempt to get one of his oldest and dearest flames back into his … uh… arms. This adaptation cannot hold a candle to Dangerous Liasons and I was rather appalled at his shenanigans but … my, didn’t he look marvelous in that wonderful blue frock coat. This, unfortunately, led to a trend of him being cast in movies in which he was either a total jerk or his wife / girlfriend was continually stolen away by various men, usually one of the Fiennes brothers. Which if it is Joseph, frankly I do not understand. Joseph or Colin? Joseph or Colin? Joseph or… yeah, I’m going with Colin, thanks.
Here is one magnificent example. The English Patient. No one ever remembers Colin is in this movie, and that’s a shame. You see, while the director is boring us to death with the love affair between Ralph Fiennes and Kristen Scott Thomas and all that emo crap about the affair and how tragically it ended and whether or not Ralph is going to off himself, in the background is… Colin Firth, playing a perfectly nice, charming, proper British husband who is too trusting and sweet to realize that his skanky wife is totally stepping out on him with emo!artist!boy. STUPID. Ralph is hot stuff, I admit — but which is better, a brief fling with him that ends in angst or to live out your entire life with a darling man who provides for you and turns a blind eye to your faults? (Was anyone actually sad when she died? No? Me either.)
Irony of ironies, the roles are reversed years later in Easy Virtue, when Kristen plays a shrew and a bore of an annoying British wife and Colin is her husband, who probably would rather kill himself than listening to her harping voice for one more second. I am not kidding, the woman is horrific. He spends most of his time tinkering in the garage and in the end (don’t read on, if you haven’t seen it) runs off with his daughter in law. Not that I approved but it was hilarious. Almost as hilarious as Relative Values (sadly, there are no good pictures from that on the internet — but run to YouTube and watch it — Colin is at his most hysterical playing off of Julie Andrews…) … even if I do feel sorry for the little dog. Poor thing.
I may have just gotten lucky with him being cast in The Importance of Being Earnest. It is one of the silliest things I have ever seen but life just doesn’t get much better than watching Colin Firth and Rupert Everett fight over a box of muffins. Considering they worked together years earlier, I imagine it was fun for them to do something in a totally different vein — comedy rather than drama. People continually underestimate Colin and his comedic timing but here it is played to perfection. Placing Firth and Reese Witherspoon in that movie pretty much saved it from being ordinary — it turned out marvelous as a result, and while it doesn’t quite capture the spark of An Ideal Husband (life just does not get any better than my two favorite entertainers in the same film — and yes, I am talking about Blanchett and Northam) it’s lovely.
Ah, yes, the little rip-off that could. Bridget Jones’ Diary is basically a skanked-up version of Pride & Prejudice set in modern times… in which Colin Firth plays Darcy. No joke. That’s his name — Mark Darcy. He wears atrocious sweaters and insults Bridget but eventually after having a fling with a jerk of a coworker, she realizes Mark is a fabulous guy after all. (DUH.) I think my favorite moment is when Colin gets to beat up Hugh Grant. Er, sort of. There’s not much actual contact going on, just some kicking that reminds me of 4th grade girls in a recess scrap… but still, he landed a good punch or two and does it all with It’s Raining Men in the background. Epic. Not that I resent Hugh Grant — he and Firth were my two favorite plot lines in Love Actually, but there is just something emotionally fulfilling about watching the best Darcy beat up the worst Edward Ferrars of all time. (Everything about Sense & Sensibility except Hugh Grant was fabulous.)
I liked this movie for some demented reason; it was the Christian reviewers that annoyed me. In Girl With a Pearl Earring, Firth plays an artist who uses the housemaid for inspiration for one of his most famous paintings. The film is filled with subtle sexual tension, because it is apparent the girl has a major crush on him (who wouldn’t? … okay, the hair is bad… I admit that…). Imagine my annoyance therefore to read several reviews in which reviewers totally missed the point. Vermeer was not lusting after the maid; he saw her as artistic inspiration only. He liked it that she had an interest in colors and natural talent. He did not want to sleep with her and was not planning to cheat on his wife. If you read the blasted book, you know it was all on her side. It frustrates her so much that she runs off into Cillian Murphy’s arms (eww… no, something about him creeps me out).
Of course, that same reviewer convinced me was out of touch with the female mind when he said he did not understand the appeal of the Phantom of the Opera to women. Seriously? … step away from my costume dramas, dude. You are unworthy.
Ah, Wessex. I know we are supposed to hate him in Shakespeare in Love, but I can’t. He’s a chauvinist who looks at Viola like breeding stock but frankly I think he has a right to toss Shakespeare out the back door. Shakespeare has his own wife — he doesn’t need to climb up the side of the house and steal Wessex’s. If you want to really hear my rant (which you don’t, but are about to get anyway)… Viola had a lousy choice in that movie. I cannot say I’d fall for Wessex, even if marriage to him wouldn’t be completely atrocious (lots of money…), but I wouldn’t have gone for Shakespeare, either. Poetry, pretty — man who can’t keep his hands off you, not so romantic. Man who encourages you to engage in sexual escapades while rehearsing for his play? Skanky. Come on, Viola, respect yourself more than that. And don’t fall for poets, they more often than not turn out to be philandering morons.
(Heh… I just remembered Rupert Everett is in this movie too… dang, does that boy get around.)
This movie most of you probably have never seen — but you should. It’s kinda stupid. Okay, really stupid. The production values are low. The dialogue is campy. But… it’s so much fun! It’s called The Last Legion and in it, Colin Firth gets to tangle swords with a beautiful India-Indian actress and play a Gladiator-esque hero. It’s the fun kind of sexy and there’s pretty much no content issues in it, so have at it — I guarantee you, this is a side of him you have never seen before and likely won’t see again. B-movie, yes, but… FUN. Prince of Persia-like fun, with the banter and snark.
In Dorian Gray, he plays an older, married man who regrets not having youth and beauty, so he sets young Dorian down a very dark path — and it ends in disaster for one and all. The nastiest thing he does (well, besides encouraging Dorian to love ’em and leave ’em) is come between Dorian and the love of his life, Sybil, by inferring that she’s not worth it, she would not be respected in society, and so forth. Oh, and here’s a nice whore on the side. Sybil winds up dead and Dorian winds up heartbroken — for about five minutes, then he moves on with his life and continues to descend into evil. This is actually one of the more “mature” roles he has undertaken in his career in terms of playing a father figure and mentor, and it’s one of his darker roles as well, considering he actually accomplishes more evil than many of his previous characters — and lives long enough to regret it, when his own daughter becomes involved with Dorian.
Of course, this isn’t the first time he has played a father… and this brings me to one of my favorite movies. What a Girl Wants, in which a young girl sets out to find her dad and discovers he is an English politician played by… Colin Firth. This is when we all KNOW this is a fantasy, because there’s no way you could hunt down your long-last dad and find someone as awesome as he turns out to be. The movie is very cute and he’s awkwardly funny in it, refusing to “head bang” to music and mustering up enough nerve to break away from his diabolical lawyer and return to the woman he loves. There’s a cute subplot in which his daughter falls for a nearby guy, but who cares? It’s a delight just to see him play a loving (if somewhat repressed — and isn’t that how we love him most?) father who doesn’t quite know what to do with a high-spirited American daughter.
This doesn’t even touch on most of his movies… but since I have expounded at length on a few of his more memorable roles (excluding The King’s Speech, but you all know how much I love that film), I’ll leave you with a list of reviews I’ve compiled of his various films; I intend on adding more (and wish him all the best as he starts the second league of his career as an Oscar-winner!).
4] The Accidental Husband
2] Bridget Jones’ Diary
2] Bridget Jones’ Diary 2
2] Circle of Friends
2] Dorian Gray
3] Easy Virtue
2] The English Patient
3] Girl With a Pearl Earring
2] Hope Springs
4] The Importance of Being Earnest
4] The King’s Speech
4] The Last Legion
2] Love Actually
3] Mamma Mia!
5] Nanny McPhee
5] Pride & Prejudice
4] Relative Values
4] The Secret Garden
2] Shakespeare in Love
3] The Turn of the Screw
5] What a Girl Wants
What about you? Do you have a favorite Firth performance? What is it?