Mr. Darcy, the chick magnet

Mr. Darcy, the chick magnet

The strong, silent hero of Pride and Prejudice has long been a nemesis of the normal guy
Bruce Ward
CanWest News Service

CREDIT: Canadian Press
Matthew Macfadyen, attractively sullen as Mr. Darcy, dances with Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice.

OTTAWA - Some of you young studs out there will be taking your sweetie to see Pride & Prejudice tonight at the cineplex. You will encounter Mr. Darcy, maybe for the first time. And you will not prevail against Mr. Darcy. "What's the matter, Pops?" I hear you snickering. "Can't handle a chick flick?"

Go ahead, laugh. But here's what I have learned about Mr. Darcy and his effect on women: He's a menace. I say this based on 32 years of marriage, not counting the three years we were walking out together.

Mr. Darcy is a sex machine to all the chicks, like Shaft in the song. He burns with sullen intensity, and does so while wearing a frilly white blouse and tight breeches. This you will never do. As the years go by, you will be compared unfavourably to Mr. Darcy many, many times.

I read Pride and Prejudice back when I was pitching the woo to my gal. (You have to make an effort in the early going, don't you?) It's about England. A lot of goofy sisters stand around prattling about Mr. Darcy, who is visiting the Bennetts at their country home.

Elizabeth Bennett -- she's smart and a looker -- is mad because in 1813 women were all but auctioned off in marriage. None of the Bennett sisters are married, mainly because they are forced to wear dresses with an Empire waist -- basically, a sack.

Mr. Darcy is mighty glum, but I never figured out why. Soccer hasn't been invented yet, so it's not like he has to sit through a typical eight-hour match that ends 0-0.

I think he's in love with Mr. Bingley, the other rich, handsome swine in the movie, and that's why he's always stomping around outdoors. More than anything, Mr. D. wants to go shopping for frilly white shirts with Mr. Bingley. (Warning: Keep this theory to yourself, unless you're already in the middle of a fight with your girlfriend.)

Mr. Darcy and Lizzie don't like each other at first. She hates him, in fact, because he is haughty. Things get worse but eventually they discover that they are twin souls.

It's like Jane Austen had somehow been watching all those future Meg Ryan movies. Eerie.

In the new version of P & P, Elizabeth is played by Keira Knightley.

The first P & P my wife and I saw together was one of those made-in-England TV deals. Colin Firth, a sometime resident of Vancouver Island, plays Mr. Darcy. Nobody does sullen intensity better than Firth. Any woman will tell you this.

Should you try sullen intensity to impress the chicks? No. You will not look like a soul in torment. You will look hung over, and your loved one will say, "What's your problem, Misery Guts?"

You know the expression "a month of Sundays," right? That's how long the TV P & P lasted. Each episode opened with a tracking shot of a four-horse carriage rolling across glorious English countryside.

And each time I was asleep before the carriage came to a stop in front of the big house.

Don't be like me. Don't say "Did anything happen yet?" when you awake. I guarantee your girlfriend will say, "Shut up, OK?" Or worse.

Do try to be conscious for the ballroom scene, which is always good for a laugh. You know the one. Band playing something lively, men lined up on one side of the room, women on the other. After some bowing and flouncing, each facing couple joins hands and sashays down the row, bosoms heaving. This is ye olde version of slow dancing, and it's even funnier than watching the Royal Family doing Highland flings.

Matthew Macfadyen plays Mr. Darcy this time around. He has a plummy accent and a yummy profile, and advance word is he's no slouch in the sullen intensity department. All of which is bad news for guys.

How can you fake your way through P &P? Trust an old hand. Be sure to talk about Austen's use of language when you go for coffee. And when ordering say, "Make that two tall, low-fat, five-pump chai lattes, please." It's what Mr. Darcy would do.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005