I hold very vivid memories regarding The Bridges of Madison County. It was released in 1995 and I remember my mother going to the cinema along with a few friends to see it. When they came back they were speechless. I couldn’t read their faces, so I asked what they’d thought of the film and the only thing that I got back was a sigh. They didn’t say anything at all, not one of them. They just gazed at me and sighed. Back then, I didn’t understand their behaviour and to be honest, the love story between a fifty-something-year old man and a forty year old housewife didn’t appeal to my teen interests at all.
The film’s based on a novel, which was based on a true story. It’s a unique love story between Francesca and Robert. Francesca Johnson, played by Meryl Streep, is a simple housewife living in a house in the middle of nowhere. She’s married, has two kids and her life is full of the common and boring chores that come with everyday housekeeping. She’s living a more normal and predictable life than she ever thought she would. She used to have dreams and plans, but reality and ‘normality’ gradually got the best of her. On the other hand, Robert Kincaid, played by Clint Eastwood, is a freelance photographer, working mostly for the National Geographic. He was married once, but it didn’t work out. He spends his time travelling and he’s not afraid to take the assignments that nobody else wants. He’s smart, funny and humble – the perfect catch.
These two characters meet one hot summer when Robert asks for directions about a bridge he’s looking to take a few pictures by. The chemistry of the two protagonists is so strong that it can’t be ignored. Morals and doubts go aside as Robert and Francesca develop a really strong and deep romance. Four days is all the time they have – four days before reality comes in and crucial decisions need to be made.
The book was written thanks to Francesca’s kids. When she passed away, she left them a letter, some notebooks and a will full of instructions to follow. After the shock of finding out about their mother’s affair, they realized that this was a love story that shouldn’t die with their mother; it was a love story that deserved to be told.
Robert James Waller, who wrote the novel along with Richard LaGravenese, who adapted it into a screenplay, manage to show how strong this romance was and more importantly, how difficult it is to be a woman. There were many alterations made, but the main theme remained untouched and clear. A great love that never gets what it deserves because of the personal sacrifices that Francesca needs to make. She decides to stay strong and lose the love of her life, in order not to disappoint her family or even worse, the role that society has given her.
The Bridges of Madison County is a movie/book that you can only comprehend when you are old enough, because it talks about things that come once in a lifetime. When you’re young, you consider a lifetime a long time, but as you grow older, you realize that it’s not. This adaptation is about difficult decisions and sacrifices, it’s about letting go of your dreams in order to stick with expectations.
The Bridges Of Madison County (film) at IMDb
The Bridges Of Madison County (book) at Wikipedia
The Bridges Of Madison County (film) at Wikipedia
The Bridges Of Madison County (film) at Rotten Tomatoes
The Bridges Of Madison County (awards won and nominated for) at IMDb
Clint Eastwood at IMDb