Sunday 19 June 2022

Movie Review: The Bridges Of Madison County (1995)

A romantic drama, The Bridges Of Madison County is soulful and scenic, but also remarkably slow.

In the present day, siblings Carolyn and Michael Johnson convene at the Iowa home of their recently deceased mother Francesca (Meryl Streep). They are surprised at her wish to be cremated with the ashes dispersed from a local bridge. Carolyn and Michael then uncover a set of Francesca's journals containing the details of a secret four-day affair she had in the 1960s.

In a flashback to 1965, National Geographic photographer Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood) is traveling through the area on assignment to photograph local bridges. With her husband Richard away at the state fair with the two kids, Francesca helps Kincaid with directions. During the drive then over dinner, they get acquainted. She is originally from Italy, now quietly unfulfilled as an underappreciated mother, housekeeper, and faithful wife in rural Iowa. He is a free-spirited, divorced, and happily unattached world traveler. They develop a deep bond that evolves into a passionate romance.

An adaptation of the 1992 best-selling novel by Robert James Waller, The Bridges Of Madison County fully invests in a love powerful enough to upend lives and launch long-dormant dreams. Eastwood also directs, and the Richard LaGravenese script is dedicated to the singular objective of demonstrating how passion can unexpectedly spark when least expected.

Most of the film consists of Francesca and Robert conversing, the relationship evolving from an awkward introduction to a complete and mutual surrender to the force ignited between them. The 134 minutes smolder with building fervour, but the languid pacing threatens to overwhelm the available material. The central love story is only briefly interrupted by interspersed scenes of Carolyn and Michael coming to terms with who their mother really was. 

Eastwood the actor is predictably miscast as a romantic lead, and never appears comfortable as a man-of-the-world discovering true love for the first time. Fortunately, the drama is made tolerable by Streep's superlative acting. She overcomes a dubious accent to convey awakening emotions of delight, excitement, and craving for a man who nourishes her soul, and who may whisk her away from the corn fields.

The third act maturely tackles the theme of life's one grand love colliding with here-and-now pragmatism. Answers and resolutions only emerge through pain and trade-offs, The Bridges Of Madison County silent - but also slightly bored - witnesses to secrets of pleasure and sacrifice.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.