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The Bridges of Madison County
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171 out of 197 people found the following review useful:

Meryl Streep Italian Style

9/10
Author: ccrivelli2005 from Rome, Italy
29 August 2005

Meryl Streep is absolutely astonishing. I forgot it was her ten seconds into the film. That opening breakfast scene where all of her story is written in her magnificent face. As an Italian I know there is no acting involved here. She IS Italian. She reminded me of Anna Magnani in "Bellissima" there is not a single false note. Clint Eastwood, clearly, dedicates the film to her and the results are pure magic. The film is based on an unreadable book- at least I couldn't get through it, in spite of the brevity of the volume - the film however, is bound to become a classic thanks to the powerful chemistry of the stars. If you love film,like I do, I recommend you to see it once and let yourself be taken away by the truths in Meryl's eyes then go again and take note. Look at every one of her moments, from how she closes the refrigerator door to her laughter. Look at her reaction when she discovers that Clint stopped at Bari, her home town, just because he thought the place was pretty. Look at her hands, her walk and then go back to her eyes. It's a treat of the first order. Clint, in front as well as behind the camera,does a miraculous job. I passionately recommend it, no matter how young you are.

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164 out of 207 people found the following review useful:

love with the proper stranger

10/10
Author: abelardo64 from United States
3 January 2005

The book on which this film is based is a very thin volume, thin in every department. As a matter of fact I gave up after a few pages. The film is something else entirely. Meryl Streep plays an Italian living in rural America and she is out of this world. Her opening scenes at the breakfast table are staggeringly beautiful, it could have been a silent movie, we would've understood and live Francesca's story just by looking into Meryl's beautiful face. Every laugh, every move, every nuance is so Italian and so real that I went to look up her background to see if there was some Italian blood in her. Apparently not, but she reminded me of Anna Magnani and of my mother - she's Italian too, so I should know. Clint Eastwood's performance is tender, powerful and generous. I started going to the movies in the 70's and part of the fascination was to go and see movies with adults doing adult things, behaving and reacting to life the way adults do. "Five Easy Pieces" "Coming Home" "Sophie's Choice" and then the old great old ones from "Sullivan's Travels" to "All About Eve" As a side note I should inform the decision makers that on my second visit to the theater I took five kids with me, two 17 year old boys and three girls, 18, 16 and 16. They went back to see it a few days later with some of their contemporaries. The comment of one of the boys was: "It made me think of things I don't usually think about". He invited his mom to the movies to see "Bridges of Madison County" According to his mother, that was the first time ever, but, as it happens, not the last.

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140 out of 197 people found the following review useful:

A cinematic silk purse from a literary sow's ear ...

8/10
Author: Jen_UK (jenn_146@hotmail.com) from England
11 September 2003

I only managed about two pages of the book before feeling physically ill by the trite dialogue, heavy dependence on cliche and ham fisted, adolescent romance prose style. So a film of the book 'The Bridges of Madison County' did not fill me with joy and pleasureable anticpation.

Yet Clint Eastwood has waved a magic wand, and worked wonders on the lack lustre source material, by pairing it down to produce a beautiful, warm film with only one real flaw (more on that later)

The film's overwhelming main strength is the casting of Meryl Streep. As Francesca she dissolves into the role - at times her gestures and dialogue seem so natural and unforced it is as if Eastwood had installed a fly-on-the-wall camera into the house of a real Iowan housewife. She lifts the film - which does centre on themes which could appear trite in the wrong hands - to the level of profound piece of art. Her selflessness and devotion to her family, and tortured sense of divided loyalites are presented so powerfully, and so plausibly, that the final scene in the car at the end (those who've seen it will recall immediately what I mean) pulls at your emotions so hard you'd swear it was you who was making the decision. I defy anyone with a pulse not to shed copious amounts of tears at this point --- you would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved on some level by this great, great performance.

Clint Eastwood provides good, solid support in the sense that he doesn't overact, and allows Meryl to become the heart of the film. This is a wise decision - part of the terrible weakness of the book was its dependence upon the inane thoughts and ramblings of Robert Kincaid. The film is beautifully directed, beautifully photograhed and beautifully scored - the radio tunes and the non-diegetic Bridges Love theme really enhance the romantic, lush tone and mood of the film.

My only problem is with the misguided decision to cast Francesca's older children and flash back periodically to them reading through their Mother's journals. The acting in these parts is mediocre at best, and they detract from the elegance and poignant mastery of Meryl Streep's central performance. The ashes scene at the end is - I feel - necessary for closure, but the rest of the scenes featuring the chldren should have been scrapped. The Francesca and Robert sections stand alone and require no interruption - these other segments cheapen the mastery of Meryl.

Above all, this is a film which (on paper) can be dismissed as pure soap opera. But it transcends these potentially trite themes to make a universal story of love, selflessness, devotion and choice, that speaks eloquently to the viewer, no matter what your age or experience. It's a truly heartbreaking tale of transitory experience and the power of memory. It will make you think about your own life, and about your closest family members and relationships.

And its finest quality has to be the magic of Meryl Streep who proves, yet again, why she is uniquely the best actress we have ever had. As Clint Eastwood said about casting this role: 'I only made one phonecall'. He knew as you will too - no other actress could have brought so much depth, warmth, beauty, charisma and humanity to this character. As a humble film lover, it's all I can do to applaud her from the depths of my heart. Bravo, Queen Meryl!

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88 out of 101 people found the following review useful:

Meryl from Bari

9/10
Author: fanaticusanonymous from UK/USA
26 September 2007

When the soul of a movie is reflected in an actor's eyes then you have a miracle, you have something that's going to last. Meryl Streep in "The Bridges Of Madison County" is such a miracle to me. I never thought for a moment that she, no matter how wonderful an actress she is, could fool me. Meryl Streep could never be Italian. Well, there I was, thinking and pre-judging like people I detest. I was so wrong. Not just because she fooled me, although there is no fooling involved here. She won me over. I forgot she was Meryl Streep, the actress, and I lived Francesca's story to the fullest because, I suppose, that's the mystery of great acting, I was confronted by her sheer undiluted truth. The truth in her eyes in every one of her gestures. The truth on her brow. Her thinking, transparent. Clint Eastwood does the right thing putting the entire film at her service and placing himself as the foil to liberate that powerful latent side of Francesca. I though it was ironic and I'm not sure if was meant to be that a wonderful woman like Francesca will sacrifice, what could arguably be call the love of her life, for those children. The grown children's mediocrity was kind of shocking to me. Will the revelation of their mother's secret, reveal a latent, greater side to their natures. I hope so. Francesca deserved extraordinary children. Try no to miss this little miracle.

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44 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

There won't be a dry eye in the house!

9/10
Author: Martin Bradley (MOscarbradley@aol.com) from Derry, Ireland
17 July 2007

On the page "The Bridges of Madison County" often read like a reject from Mills and Boon and yet it was tremendously popular. People who normally wouldn't read this sort of thing were not only reading it but quoting it. You could say that for some people it held the kind of camp appeal that bad books sometimes do for the so-called intelligentsia. Personally, I am inclined to think that its tale of middle-aged romance struck a cord. It may not have been well-written but many people recognized in its two central characters a reflection of themselves. It spoke of a great passion and a great loss; a "Brief Encounter" for the nineties. Still, it never quite seemed like a vehicle for Clint Eastwood; (once upon a time you might have envisaged Arthur Hiller doing it), yet here it is, larger than life on the big screen and utterly lovely, utterly heart-breaking.

Perhaps Eastwood chose to film it as a vehicle for himself. He wears the mantle of the ageing Lothario perfectly at an age when most romantic leads are played by much younger men, (or are simply non-existent), yet who blanched when Gary Cooper or Cary Grant were wooing Audrey Hepburn well into their old age. Admittedly Eastwood isn't entirely comfortable in this sort of role. He's not a versatile actor. His best performances have been as tortured losers or just old-fashioned tough guys but under his own direction he blossoms here. Of course, the 'romantic' in Eastwood has never been hard to find. You need look only to the scores he has composed. (He has written the main love theme here and his use of classic jazz standards by the likes of Dinah Washington and Johnny Hartman adds considerably to the film's beating heart).

What is remarkable is that essentially Eastwood's film is really something of a chamber piece for two players. A few other characters flit into the frame but for most of the time there is no one on screen but Eastwood and co-star Meryl Streep and this is one of Streep's great performances. As Francesca, the woman who finds in Eastwood's photographer Robert the one great passion in her life albeit briefly and at a time when the likelihood of such a thing happening was remote indeed, Streep is extraordinary. Sometimes Streep can overwhelm a project; her versatility doesn't always work in favour of lesser material. But here she seems to have tapped quite effortlessly, not just into the consciousness of her character, but into her very soul as well. And if that sounds cheesy, let me assure you it isn't. Cheesiness isn't in Streep's vocabulary, even if it is in mine! Perhaps Eastwood was able to discern in Robert James Waller's novel the seeds of a great love story or perhaps he just felt he could bring his artistry to bear on some unlikely source material. Whatever, it's paid off. On screen "The Bridges of Madison County" is a great love story; there won't be a dry eye in the house.

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62 out of 92 people found the following review useful:

Never give up hoping for something better

10/10
Author: katam84 (katam84@freemail.hu) from Hungary
4 June 2005

I've watched this movie yesterday evening and it had a great effect on me.In my opinion this movie is outstanding because it reflects an average life,which is then becoming a really extraordinary one,representing that everyone's life can change from one moment to the other.And I think this meaning tells something to everyone,because everyone has dreams that seem that one can't fulfill,but this story says the opposite,so that at any time can come an opportunity that you have to recognize and be brave enough not to release.Another thing is that you may have to live your whole life in only four days and you have to be able to live it so that after it you can say that you had a really wonderful life. My favorite part of the movie was when Robert was leaving and the two cars were staying at the lamps one behind the other...it was a very touching scene,I think. So to draw the conclusion:I can recommend to everyone to watch the movie THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY because after watching it you're getting an other state of mind,a better one,that doesn't allows you to give up hoping for a better life...

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66 out of 105 people found the following review useful:

A surprisingly sensitive film that Eastwood does well to keep away from the usual sentimental clichés of the weepy genre

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
19 July 2004

When Francesca Johnson passes away, her grown children are puzzled to learn that she wishes to be cremated and her ashes scattered from a local bridge rather than being buried next to her husband. Their puzzlement turns to surprise and shock when they read their mother's secret journals and read about an affair she had had many years ago with a photographer who came to the area for a few days.

I had seen this film many years ago in the cinema when it came out and had only average memories of it. With it coming onto TV recently, I wasn't sure if I'd bother because I had the idea in my head that this was a rubbish weepy but decided to go for it anyway. I am glad that I do not just make assumptions about films based on genre because my memory had tricked me in regards this film and in fact it was surprisingly good. I'm not generally a weepy fan but this is not what you think a weepy will be. Reading the plot summary and watching the film itself, it is clear how easily this could have fallen into sweeping sentiment and unbearable mush and it is to Eastwood's credit that it never does. Even as the plot sees the lovers falling into idealised romance, the film never does and it is the cool, calm direction that keeps it from being this way. Some will see this as 'excusing' the affair but I don't think it does – affairs happen because the grass is greener and that is just what this film does; it seems romantic and idyllic but that's because it is meant to be. I'm the last person to try and defend having affairs but I don't think that this film did this but I can understand why people would dislike it for doing this.

Without the mush, what is left is a film that is refreshingly free of sentiment and is able to deliver a grown up romance that is genuinely touching. This is seen in the honest chemistry between Francesca and Robert; sometimes things like this happen – two people just click, nothing has to be massively wrong in the relationship for it to happen. The film avoids easy shots (like making the husband be a real idiot) and just tries to show us why these two fell for one another so quickly. It isn't perfect of course and it is still a weepy of sorts – some of the dialogue is a bit self-consciously 'deep' for my liking but generally it was an adult telling of an adult romance – no corny ending, no sweeping score or clichéd effort to pump the audience for sentiment, instead I found it genuine and, as cold hearted a b*stard as I am, I was moved by the film.

I am a fan of Clint Eastwood and this film was a real pleasant surprise as it showed how able he is as a director and performer. I have already praised his work as director but he also turns in an unshowy and natural performance in the lead. Streep has never totally won me over and I often felt that doing an accent is not the same as giving a performance. Here her accent put me off at first but generally she is good and shows suitable restraint in depicting her character. She suffers a bit from having to deliver a narration that occasionally contains sentimental dialogue but she does well despite this. The support cast is OK but really contributions from Corley and Slezak are no more than distractions from the main show which is a collection of natural scenes between the two leads and no one else.

Overall, I consider this film a reason to not just watch any specific genre of movie and reject films simply because 'those aren't my type of things'. I was pleasantly surprised by a film that is romantic without being sentimental or mushy; idealistic without being unrealistic; moving without being sickly. True it may not be everyone's idea of a great film (nothing goes bang and there are no car chases) but I liked it a lot more than I had expected and if you want to see an adult love story then you could do a lot worse than this.

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53 out of 80 people found the following review useful:

True love is possible, even in the scope of a life of compromise, and in the middle of nowhere, on the far side of any age...

8/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
22 March 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Meryl Streep received her first Academy Award nomination for the stunning war drama "The Deer Hunter" (1978). The following year, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Dustin Hoffman's wife, Joanna, in "Kramer vs. Kramer". She earned the Best Actress Award for "Sophie's Choice" (1982), and was nominated for another Oscar for her outstanding performance as real-life Karen Silkwood... In all, she has received 13 Academy Award nominations, the most recent for her supporting role opposite Nicolas Cage and Chris Cooper in the fascinating film 'Adaptation.'

In 'The Bridges of Madison County,' Streep stars as Francesca, a conventional wife of an Iowa farmer... Francesca cares for her family with all her heart, as she has done for years... She describes herself as "happily married," but nevertheless falls easily into a chaste but tender affair with a charismatic wandering photographer on assignment for National Geographic magazine in the fall of 1965...

Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood) stops at Francesca's farm to ask for directions... While close-ups provide Streep's intimate thoughts, some women lost patience with her indecision and reticence...

Francesca, although nervous by the attention of the courteous visitor, but guilty about being unfaithful to her passionless Iowa husband, finds out a mystical attraction for the top photographer who has come to Madison County to take pictures of the local covered bridges... Francesca was at home, alone, her husband and two children having gone for four days to the Illinois state fair...

Francesca and Robert talk about their lives and their old dreams, and as their relationship grows, they both find themselves drawn to each other, falling deeply and immediately in love... Their true love strikes at the heart of everyone... 'In a universe of ambiguity, this kind of certainty comes only once.'

The suffocating rain sequence has to go down as one of the most poignant in cinematic history, beautifully complemented by a soundtrack resonating with a melancholic piece of blues and piano...

Every performance in the movie is backed up by a truthful, believable script full of real, everyday people... The poignancy of each moment is underscored by an unforgettable choice of romantic melodies...

The motion picture, nominated for the César Awards in France, is another example of Eastwood's exceptional style as both a filmmaker and as an actor...

As a filmmaker, Eastwood proves his comprehension of the secret of romance novels, showing sensuously, and sensitively the way people feel and think when they are really in love... As an actor, he is very convincing as the loner with much to share... Although his travels have taken him far across the 'other side of the world,' he still looks cleverly back on his life...

His film gives us the passion between two lovers, but also life's compromises and regrets... It is a realistic portrait of a man and a woman who love the memories they share... It is a sensitive exploration of feelings which grows into something neither one can get free... It is an invitation to consider what might have been missed or lost in our life...

Meryl Streep is heartbreaking as a lonely woman surrounded by family... We truly feel her pain and desperation... She fights with all the love, hope, frustration and responsibility... She is someone whose dreams of coming to America have not been fulfilled by the tedious reality of her life in Winterset, Iowa... Her busy life is filled with details but has nothing that truly excites her anymore... She is forever altered by a chance encounter.. Her emotional range is enormous and her laughter is as charged with energy as her tears... But you never doubt the truth of what she's feeling...

As the pair reveal their own lives through each other, a connection is made, and in just four fateful days, they find one another and commit themselves to each other for a lifetime even though they remain apart...

We all dream of the chance meeting, that particular time when we really feel we are enjoying life... But love never obey our expectations... Robert and Francesca, couldn't stay together physically, but their love was so strong that lasted forever as Francesca grew old on the farm and Robert traveled the world... Women love romanticism and never seem to get enough... And true love is possible, even in the scope of a life of compromise, and in the middle of nowhere, on the far side of any age...

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63 out of 100 people found the following review useful:

beautiful

Author: phillips99us from Aliceville, Alabama
4 October 2004

I think this movie of one of the best movies I have ever seen. Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood really did a great job in this movie. for him to come in and change her life in just four days is amazing. To fall in love with some one in just four days is just wonderful to me. I watch it on Starz, and it played everyday for a week and I watch it every day it came on. she was a strong lady to stay there and be unhappy for all of those years. It is simply a beautiful movie. I love the part when he was picking flowers for her and she told him that the flowers were poison and then she started to laugh, that was hilarious to me. Because just in the few minutes she had know him he brought out something in her something that has not been released. She was more herself in this movie.I would surely recommend this movie to some one else.

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26 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

A mature, believable, and truly moving love story

Author: Benedict_Cumberbatch from United States
28 June 2008

I admire the likes of Woody Allen, Chaplin and Clint Eastwood (just to name a few), who possess(ed) the chops to write, direct AND act. They're complete artists, and I wish I could be like that (I'll be already too happy if I can ever achieve my life passion of writing and directing, though, since my acting would be less convincing than Owen Wilson playing Hamlet).

Even though Eastwood didn't write this (Richard LaGravenese did it beautifully, based on a novel by Robert James Waller), he does a good job in front of the camera while also directing this human encounter between a photographer (played by himself) and an Italian housewife (Meryl Streep, magnificent) in 1960s Iowa. Their four days together would change their lives forever.

The premise doesn't sound too original, but Eastwood wonderfully captures all the raw emotions between these people, who seem throughly genuine, alive, and passionate. Lennie Niehaus' beautiful music score helps enhance the romantic atmosphere, and the slow pace is never a bore since it's necessary to make you live those brief but special moments with them. From westerns to female boxers to jazz musicians to war dramas, Clint Eastwood knows how to tell a good story, and "The Bridges of Madison County" ranks among his best. 10/10.

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