I was not a fan of Colin Firth. I wanted to like him. I knew other people absolutely adored him. I just couldn't shake the impression that Colin would be cast more fittingly as the leading man's best friend. He's the guy that didn't get the girl because he's too nice. Colin Firth had, in the movies, what all men in real life despise - permanent delegation to the friend zone.
“Easy Virtue” changed that. This film, set in 1924, starred Jessica Biel, Ben Barnes, Kristin Scott Thomas & Colin Firth.
Colin was cast as Mr. Whittaker, a British man in his mid forties who was a little less of himself after the Great War. Mr. Whittaker went to war with many of the men in his community; however, he had the misfortune of surviving. Steeping himself in plenty of alcohol and losing himself in France, his wife (played by Kristin Scott Thomas) came looking for him. He reluctantly followed her home. His wife didn't understand him, and so she'd lost respect for him. Rather than rejoin her in the life they had together, he retreated to the garage. She treated him with disapproval.
Some time later their son, John (Ben Barnes) returns from America with his new wife, Larita (Jessica Biel). The young Mrs. Whittaker is shocking. She's a race car driver. She smokes cigarettes. She's a bit older than her new husband. She kills her mother-in-law's dog by sitting on him. She's been married before and there were criminal charges against her after the death of her husband. That last bit was the beginning of the end for the young couple. Larita tries to confide in him about a scandal from her past, but he assures her he doesn't need to know. When John's sister maliciously exposes the scandal, he behaves as though Larita intended to deceive him.
Back to Colin. In this role, he's the only one to show compassion for his daughter-in-law when she's humiliated at a family party. Larita finds herself standing alone in the center of the dance floor when John refuses her invitation to dance with her. Mr. Whittaker doesn't allow her to slink away in embarrassment, instead he pulls her into his arms for a dance. Not a cordial waltz, but a steamy tango. It was during this dance that Colin Firth was thrown quickly and forcefully out of the Friend Zone.
The scandal the family endured before this dance was nothing compared to what would take place over the next hour. It was a justifiable end for a family haughty with hypocrisy and lacking all sorts of compassion for each other.
Last weekend I saw Colin in “Hope Springs” (2003) with Heather Graham and Minnie Driver. It appears that Mr. Firth has acquired enough sex appeal to endure roles wherein he wraps a scarf around his chest and swings the ends like tassels in a comical “come hither” dance.
If you haven't yet found the role to convince you that Mr. Firth is romantic leading man material, I recommend you see “Easy Virtue”. You will laugh, the ending is unexpected, and you'll find yourself ultimately satisfied when wicked people reap what they sow.
I was not compensated to comment on the films mentioned in this article. I viewed them at home on premium movie channels subscribed to at my own expense.