One of the things am ever grateful for are my wonderful friends who’ve continuously inspired me for many things. One of my dear and close friend gave me the idea to start writing about my favorite movies. And hence this new series wherein I want to share my thoughts on movies that have left an indelible print on my mind and heart. And I begin this series with a movie that I got introduced to, thanks to another wonderful friend of mine – Sushma Rao. I feel it only befitting to begin this series with “The Bridges of Madison County“, a movie that I have felt more at home with than any I have seen so far.
The story of four unforgettable days in the life of Francesca and Robert. The former an Italian, living in Iowa, leading what is perceptively a mundane family life of a woman, who has sacrificed her passion and interests to cater to the needs of her children and husband and the latter is an apparently free soul who followed his heart and continues to do what he likes to do and loves being a “citizen of the world!” I must confess that I’ve watched the movie countless number of times. At times, I felt I could understand what she went through, and at times, I felt puzzled by the whole affair. Here I am, trying to key in my thoughts about this movie, and all I seem to be able to do is smile. For this movie, that has made me cry inconsolably every time I watch does nevertheless always leave me with a sense of peace in the end. Like the calming effect of the water drops trickling down the leaf after a torrential downpour, the movie raises in the mind a tempest of feelings only to eventually lead the viewer to the magic shores of tranquility and acceptance.
Francesca’s confession of her affair in a letter she writes to her children is only for her children to accept whatever had transpired irrespective of how they may judge it. Her request to be cremated and her ashes thrown over the Roseman Bridge, is substantiated by her narration of what was truly the most wonderful moment of her life – one she cherished as a truly personal possession. It is indeed a most beautiful and at the same time the most painful characteristic of love – a love that is so personal and unique, that it cannot be shared nor sought to be understood by anyone. The story may seem to be one of what we generally talk of as forbidden act that puts to question the commitment of a marital relationship but yet, transcending this myopic view, if we scale to the heights of the true nature of love and human relationships, the same shocking act, blooms into a blissful companionship that transforms into a soulful experience and not a mere carnal attraction.
The confrontation between Robert and Francesca, both aware of their longing for one another, and equally aware that they may never have a chance to be together is one of the most poignant moments in the movie for me. “I don’t want to need you… because I know I cannot have you”. The other being when she yearns to get out of the car and run to Robert’s car and leave with him while he waits at the traffic signal. It would take only the genius of Meryl Streep to portray it with the sensitivity it deserves. The seeming indifference of her family is not one that is born of contempt, but a feeling that originates from a person being taken for granted. There are countless instances when we feel that the people in our lives may not truly appreciate us, or our presence in their lives. Then along we may run into a person who in a short duration gives us the most unforgettable experience of being wanted, needed and desired like never before. Francesca and Robert gave that experience to one another. And in the pain of separation their personalities expand to encompass a higher dimension of art and humanity, one that expresses itself in how Francesca treats others, and likewise in the writings of Robert.
The movie has its moments of tenderness, eroticism (Francesca bathing in the tub where moments before Robert would’ve showered, is probably one of the most beautifully captured expression of desire), confrontation, drama and a befitting climax. In short, it is a perfect mixture of what makes it to be a truly remarkable romantic movie in that genre. The Bridges of Madison County is a movie that must be experienced and lived to be truly appreciated. How many of us can talk of having experienced a love that was so uplifting that it transforms us from mundane creatures to true human beings? How many of us can remember having met someone who in a very short time seemed like someone we’ve known for a lifetime and would wanna spend our life with? And how many of us can truly talk of the pain of having to let go of a love such as this. The pain of knowing just how perfect we’d be, and yet cannot be, together – and that it is Ok! It is OK because, there shall be a time when the physical limitations of this body shall cease to exist, and we shall truly become one in an endless expanse of creation beyond the space and time. It is this message, that makes the Bridges of Madison County a timeless epic. Watch it, if you wanna feel that love!
Directed & Produced by Clint Eastwood. Starcast: Meryl Streep, Clint Eastwood, Annie Corley, Victor Slezak.
P.S: I thought I’ll write an objective review on this movie. But this movie makes it so tough for me to be objective. All I can blabber here is what I truly feel, is what I’ve learnt.