The Bridges of Madison County

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It all starts in a little town called ‘Madison County’.

Francesca, a forty-something homemaker, has pretty much reached the essence of her life. She is raising two kids with her husband in a small town setting. Though she once had big dreams of her own, she has accepted the substance of her secure yet plain life.

Robert Kincaid, an American photographer. He is, in his own words, a citizen of the world as he goes from country to country without a place to call home. He is by no means searching for someone to share his life with. He is divorced and believes he is not an adequate person to have a family because of his passion for traveling and adventure.

One thing I really noticed in this movie was the seeming difference between the two leads. I mean, they are as different as night and day to the naked eye. Francesca Johnson is a small-town woman, Robert Kincaid a world-wide adventurer. She has a family, he’s a loner. I could go on and on. My point is they are not as different as they first appear to be. Though they are both content with their lives, something is missing. For her it’s passion, for him its solidarity. In a way, they complete each other when they’re together. Neither one of them was searching for the entity of one another, but it found them.

If I had to describe this movie in three words I’d use: real, ambivalent and heartbreaking.
The way it plays with your emotions is extraordinary. I’ve seen this movie at least five times and every single time it gets to me. The passion between the two leads, the dilemma in which Francesca is captured; the honesty of it all. If I could cry at movies, I’d ball my eyes out during this one. The ending is just… heart-wrenching. You want her to get out of the car, but you know she shouldn’t. You can’t abandon your family; but can you just let the love of your life walk away? It’s all so ambivalent. During the movie, you’ll find yourself trapped between her dilemma and you’ll be thankful that's not you making that impossible decision. It somewhat reminds me of her other notable “choice” movie; Sophie’s choice.

And can I just say that the casting was brilliant. Meryl Streep’s performance is perfect as always. Her transformation from dowdy housewife to glowing woman in love is subtle, but very perceptible. And that accent! Pure perfection… Seriously, is there any accent she can’t do? And Clint Eastwood is great; both as director and lead actor. Their individual acting is great, but this movie was all about the two of them. If there were no chemistry, this film wouldn’t work. Luckily, they are a great on-screen couple.

Also, the script is so miraculously written. The dialogue contains intelligent, sensible lines which run very deep. It causes the viewer to carry the movie with them for a very long time. The movie is an adaptation from the book by Robert James Waller by the same name. Though the great dialogue partly gets its magic from the pages of that novel, a lot of elements in the film made the story even more colorful. Though you can read every single detail in a book, a picture is worth a thousand words, and a movie a million...

Favorite quotations:
"When I think of why I make pictures, the reason that I can come up with just seems that I've been making my way here. It seems right now that all I've ever done in my life is making my way here to you." (Robert)
"And in that moment, everything I knew to be true about myself up until then was gone. I was acting like another woman, yet I was more myself than ever before." (Francesca)


Anonymous said...

As a movie fan there's always something magical about two of your favourite actors appearing in a movie together and The Bridges Of Madison County is one of those occasions for me.
I've watched all Clint Eastwoods films going right back to his spaghetti western days and it's really impressed me how he's matured from the tough guy of the 70's to the thoughtful actor and director we see in Bridges'....and Meryl Streep is always faultless,has she ever given a less than perfect performance?
As you rightly point out Chelsea the transformation of her character is very subtle but distinct and that's the mark of a superb actress.
I have to be in a certain frame of mind to watch this film because it is heartrending but on the occasions I do watch it I always find it very satisfying and I even love the music on that radio station that they listen to.
Great write up of a great film Chelsea:)

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