Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Bridges of Madison County

The title refers to the cover story of a 1965 issue of National Geographic, and when two grown siblings find that their recently deceased mother’s will stipulates that she wishes to be thrown off of one of these bridges, they are more than perplexed. Why would she not want to be buried in the spot reserved for her next to her loving husband? We learn the answer to that question as a four day love affair between the woman and a visiting photographer is revealed through flashback. This could have been a soapy mess, but thanks to the fine direction of Clint Eastwood, it proves to be a thoughtful rumination and honest portrait of a true love that was never meant to be. Playing an Italian immigrant, whose dreams did not involve growing up on an Iowan farm, but whose life somehow ended up that way, Meryl Streep is luminous and Clint shows vulnerability while retaining his tough guy persona as the photographer. The movie is a little long yet nonetheless intelligent, effective, and affecting.