The Bridges of Madison County Movie Review
The Bridges of Madison County is a 1995 romantic drama movie based on the novel of the same name directed by Clint Eastwood and starring himself opposite Meryl Streep.
It is about a lonely married woman living in Iowa who one day meets a National Geographic photographer and the two start having an affair. This story is indescribably cliched and overly familiar. The slow pace did not bother me personally, but the overall cheesy and overly sentimental nature of the film did bother me a lot. But the lines are even worse with some being incredibly pathetic. Also, the never-ending crying in the second half got on my nerves immensely. I also did not like how unrealistic it is. The start of a relationship may be realistic as it slowly progressed, but the connection they created for such a short time seems a bit hard to believe.
But that story is bearable to some degree mostly thanks to strong acting and excellent characters. There are only two major characters here and those are the two lovers Francesca and Robert. He is grounded both in his personality and behavior. But it is Francesca who is the standout here as she is so incredibly sympathetic and realistic. Her suffering and her problems ring true and her relationship with Robert is nicely portrayed, especially in some earlier dialogue. Clint Eastwood gave a pretty good performance here, possibly one of his best as he was never a particularly great actor, but it is Meryl Streep who naturally shines here in her very difficult role full of emotion. She portrayed her character in an honest way with a lot of emotional investment and great naturalistic approach. She is one of the highlights and one of the reasons to see this movie and she most definitely deserved her Oscar nomination.
The dialogue is so-so. It has some lines near the end that are just inexplicably cheesy and those ruin the film, but there are some that are very smart and observant. I also like the clever approach with characters which is mostly seen in her husband’s depiction which is understandable and full of sympathy. The movie shows sympathy for all its characters and it shows this difficult situation from all angles and that was really refreshing. And it is tender at times, but unfortunately is mostly overly emotional.
The movie somewhat hinges on its immaculate technicalities. And yes, I am mostly talking about the directing and cinematography. Eastwood did an incredible job as a director here and it is one of his most professional, neat films he directed. And the movie looks really good with some beautiful town and nature scenery with the sequences on the bridge being very effective. The tone is too emotional, but the romance is mostly really appealing and although overly cliched and cheesy, it is well acted and moving. I did not mind the pacing here, I thought it is a deftly edited film that has slow pace, but never too slow and the lengthy running time is justified as it perfectly creates the epic quality and scope of their romance. There is little humor here, but that humor is solid. It has a nice score as well. And while The Bridges of Madison County is highly predictable, it is still worth watching for its fine subtleties and excellent performances.