Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

This 1995 film, BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, stars Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, and was also produced and directed by the former. If you're used to seeing Clint in his belligerent Dirty Harry or Man With No Name persona, then you're likely to be enormously surprised by his triple triumph in this sensitive film in which nary a shot is fired or punch thrown.

The Streep character, Francesca Johnson, was an Italian war bride brought back to Iowa in 1945 by the soldier whose heart she captured. Twenty years later, she lives on a farm with her middle-aged husband and teenage son and daughter. Long since before, she's had to give up her career as a teacher because her spouse, an otherwise gentle and considerate man, doesn't approve of a working wife. She lives, without dreams or passion, a life of quiet desperation. Then along comes the Eastwood character, Robert Kincaid, during a period when Francesca is home alone, the rest of the family off to the State Fair in neighboring Illinois. Kincaid is a photographer for National Geographic, his current assignment to photograph the local covered BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. The divorced Kincaid is the quintessential wanderer, at home wherever in the world he finds himself at the moment, taking his experiences and relationships as they come.

During the four days of her family's absence, Francesca falls deeply in love with Robert, and he with her. In him, she rediscovers her dreams of the wider world long denied her in rural Iowa. In her, he discovers the personal and emotional commitment that he professes not to need. When Francesca must choose between Robert and her family, Duty, Responsibility and Loyalty battle with the Heart for the outcome. The scene towards the end of the film in her husband's pick-up truck, wherein Francesca displays wrenching mental turmoil and emotional anguish over a decision that she must make immediately, is, by itself, an Oscar caliber performance by Streep.

The Bridges of Madison County - Trailer

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