2 hr. 15 min.
Directed By: Written By:
In Theaters: On DVD:
Bridges of Madison County is a love story of epic proportions, set in sprawling Iowa in the United States of America. It’s a story of a chance meeting and unrequited passion as well as unfulfilled life expectations. It’s a story that changed the lives of Kincaid (Clint Eastwood) and Francesca (Meryl Streep) and renewed in equal proportion passion for life and familial duty. It was adapted and directed by Clint Eastwood who also is the leading actor in the full feature. The story begins with the convergence of the children of a recently deceased parent as they are receiving the last testament of their mother. The surviving brother and sister are curious to hear what her final request is and it’s with shock that they realize what she desires for her remains. Their characters in my opinion are not developed enough and feel as undeveloped parts of the story that merely serve to create some depth to the main story line.
When a professional photographer (Kincaid) on assignment by National Geographic gets lost in the maze of backwater roads with absolutely no signage, he meets Francesca and they begin their journey together to find the bridge that is also his assignment and that will end up being a memory for her to hold on to. Death has a nasty way of opening the Pandora’s Box, an opportunity that Francesca uses to explain to her two children about the most memorable encounter and choice that she has lived with for many years. An encounter that has brought to the fore a reason she claims has enabled her live as long as she had. She makes use of this time to explain to her children her choice for cremation. Her choice is totally contrary to their expectations and totally unfathomable to only son.
A pivotal junction in the film is reached by the lovers on the 2nd day of their passionate encounter raising the question, what is the way forward for them, how will they exist beyond tomorrow, is this a normal routine for him to meet, sleep with a new woman and move on to his next assignment? Are they to exist as if nothing has transpired between them? All these questions are left unanswered…
The family setting and normalcy that marriages generally ebb towards over years of cohabitation is met by a new path with new possibilities, heightened passion and the opportunity to achieve personal ambitions that would not be achieved otherwise. It’s a lingering question that mostly mature and older people can ask when faced with such opportunities. “Is it worth it to take this chance or do I already have my portion for this lifetime and therefore be content?” This is the question she finally struggles with, which proves to be the hardest decision in her life. In analyzing the progression there really couldn’t have been any other conclusion to this story, for it wouldn’t have been the amazing story it has evolved to be.
Societal customs and norms play a big role in this movie; the picture perfect homes and family units with faithful marriages and close knit communities common in rural towns is depicted fluidly in this film through the stigmatization of a woman who is found out to have been unfaithful in her marriage and is treated as a leper by her community. The news of her unfaithfulness becomes the talk of the town even reaching the visiting photographer’s ears. The disdain on their faces and ever-present sneers are sufficient to keep your bedroom affairs on the straight and narrow.
This is a brilliantly shot film with beautiful cinematography and succinct scoring which brings out the moods and emotions in the story. The movie is characterized by slow, deliberate Hollywood style filming with mostly wide panning shots for outdoor scenes and medium to close shots for interior scenes. Natural lighting, slightly emphasized puts the characters in an authentic and relatable light. Except for the Hollywood-esque escalation of the romance between two strangers that grew to full blown love in less than 4 days, the story still melts the hearts and creates a longing for depth in relationships.