Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Bridges of Madison County

Movie Name: The Bridges of Madison County
Year of Release: 1995
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Meryl Streep, Clint Eastwood, Annie Corley, Victor Slezak, Jim Haynie, Sarah Kathryn Schmitt, Christopher Kroon, Phyllis Lyons, Debra Monk, Richard Lage
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8

Clint Eastwood's "The Bridges of Madison County" was one of his most successful films of the 90s, and followed the underrated "A Perfect World". The film is an adaptation of the novel by Robert James Waller, and focuses on the story of Francesca Johnson, an Italian immigrant, who married an American soldier and moved to Iowa. In 1965 while her husband and children are off to Illinois for a state fair, Francesca meets a National Geographic photographer by the name of Robert Kincaid. He's in the area to do a photographic report on the covered bridges, and Francesca provides some direction - what ensues is a romantic liaison between these two people, who at surface are apparently different, but are seemingly destined for each other.
Clint Eastwood is a director who has managed to narrate a different set of stories on screen. His features have been diverse, but traditionally focus on central characters who beneath a rugged look and attitude, hide a tender and soft heart. He's also been a director who understands the rhythms of each story, in particular his more intimate character studies (such as "Bird" and "Changeling" for instance), where he allows the actors to take center stage, and truly make their characters fully alive. That is perfectly demonstrated in this film, that lives from the memorable performance of Meryl Streep, once again proving that she's an astonishing actress - she gives a mix of nuance, strength and vulnerability to her character, a woman who may have given up on her feelings and dreams for the well being of her family. This is a film that unveils the rituals of slowly falling in love, and realizing how that changes the course of a life. The film does falter in the casting of Clint Eastwood himself as the lead - he's not a good counterpart for Meryl Streep - there's a certain stiffness in his performance, but the film is nonetheless a good example of his storytelling prowess. Worth watching.