Movie Review: The Bridges of Madison County

By Larry Carlin
Movie Magazine International
Most of you know the story by now. Or I should say that most of you women know it, as the book by Robert James Waller has been on the best-seller list for over three years. This summer the guys have Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Gene Hackman to fulfill their fantasies, while you gals have Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep to swoon over in the film version of the book “The Bridges of Madison County.”

For the uninitiated, here is a brief recap: brother and sister, now in their 40's, are rummaging through dearly departed Mom's papers and they find some revealing journals from 20 years back. Turns out that Ma had an affair while they were out of town with Pa. Flashback to 1965. Lost National Geographic photographer Robert Kincaid, played by Eastwood, stops by an Iowa farmhouse to ask directions. Lovelorn housewife Francesca, played by Streep, falls for the photostud almost immediately. Sparks fly in the humid Iowa heat. Possible life-changing decisions need to be made. And hearts break, as things will never be the same again for our two star-crossed heroes.

Eastwood directed this schmaltzy saga about two unfulfilled lovers whose brief four-day fling will have you sappy sentimentalists sniffling silently while us cynics will be "unforgiven" by fans of the book for not being moved by this light-weight tale that contains more corn than the fields of Iowa. Eastwood is flat and wooden in this 1960's sensitive guy role. In the restaurant scene I was hoping he'd pull out a .45 Magnum and blow away the close-minded local yokels. Streep looks dowdy and her Italian accent sounds more Slavic than Mediterranean. And the actors who play Streep's adult children are incredibly awful.

The so-called Christian Coalition will rail against Bridges because it glorifies adultery. But you fans of the book won't care, although you may be upset with the changes the screenwriter made in the story. And the Iowa Tourist Board will make tons of money this summer off the faithful who want to see the real bridges featured in the film.

This bridge has been crossed a zillion times already in Hollywood, but if predictable cornball soap operas are your thing, then go see “The Bridges of Madison County.”

More Information:
The Bridges of Madison County
USA / 1995