I don’t normally consider myself a hopeless romantic. On the contrary, the older I get the more grounded and realistic my views on the whole idea of love. But that being said, I still love a good love story. I pour through books and films, most satisfied with the plot if there’s at least a little romantic tale interwoven in the action. And there are times, many times, when my wistful romantic soul craves a good old-fashioned romance. I reread or re-watch my favorites, falling in love with the characters and feeling for them in their hurt and confusion, all along knowing that they will end up with their one true love in the end as they always do.
And at the end, as I sit and sigh and reflect on it all, I hear Rosie O’Donnell in my head saying her classic line from (one of my favorites) Sleepless in Seattle:
You don’t wanna be in love. You wanna be in love in a movie.
I often then feel obliged to appease this inner voice of reason, so I opt for the more serious entertainment of a “realistic” romance. Usually Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or any of my small collection of Woody Allen films or books by Elliot Perlman will easily serve this purpose: to remind me that love is not always pretty and happy. That life is messy and gritty and real, and things don’t always wrap up nicely. They do however, still appeal to my sense of justice and hope that it can’t all be mess and grit. In fact, if it lacks at least this touch of optimism, even if only a slight glimpse in the final moments, the story can easily go from a favorite to inducing what I call a “Virginia Woolf, throw the book across the room” state of anger. I may be trying to convince my inner romantic not to expect a picture-perfect happy ending, but to squash it entirely under the weight of such cynical despair seems a little unfair.
I am currently in the hopeless romantic stage of this cycle. Specifically, watching and re-watching Pride and Prejudice. I know my fellow Austen-acolytes are generally attached to the Colin Firth and what’s-her-name miniseries version, but lately I have grown particularly fond of—dare I admit it—the Keira Knightley film.
I know. I KNOW. I scoffed and turned my nose up at the very idea of Knightley, who at the time I only knew from Pirates of the Caribbean, portraying one of my favorite literary characters of all time. So I never saw it in the theaters. I only picked it up a few months ago when it was staring at me on the $5 end cap at Target. And I’ve watched it at least ten times since. This has little to do with Knightley, though she really does an amazing job with the subtleties of the part. I was pleasantly surprised.
It has everything to do with the oh-so-yummy Matthew Macfayden.
I never thought anyone would out-play Colin Firth in the role of Mr. Darcy, but I was horribly mistaken. No offense, Colin; I still love you! But as far as Fitzwilliam Darcy is concerned, I love Matthew Macfayden more. He is the quintessential handsome, misunderstood, shy guy. You can read his feelings for Elizabeth on his face from the moment he first lays eyes on her. He treads that incredibly fine line between aloof and vulnerable like a dancer, never straying too far to one side, excepting those two moments where he bares his heart to Elizabeth. And when she crushes it the first time, you can see how much courage it takes him to keep going on, to bare it again when that spark of hope is rekindled in him.
Not to mention that he’s pretty freakin’ hot. But not in a pretty, movie-star sort of way. He’s “I could totally be just a regular guy” hot. And that’s even better.
I found myself yesterday evening, in the required inactivity following my allergy shots, without anything to do. So I popped it into the DVD player—despite the fact that I just watched it Friday night, and Sunday afternoon—and got just as lost in the story as always. And at the end when Darcy comes walking across that field with the dawn lightening the sky and that big blue coat billowing behind him, I thought to myself, I want one of those.
I couldn’t entirely tell you if I meant the man, the coat, or the man while he is in the coat…most likely that last one. It’s silly and hopelessly romantic of me, but it’s the truth. I want my own Matthew Macfayden-Mr. Darcy. I want to be in love in a movie.
Though preferably one with indoor plumbing.