Sunday, 14 September 2008

The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

It's interesting how much likes and dislikes of things that require an emotional response are more often than not, a product of the moment you are exposed to them. Books, films, music, art - a simple experience, a small connection of something you have recently been through. I saw The Bridges of Madison County in 1995, aged 17, when it first came out. I liked it very much, but with the years all that subside in my memory was the ending, that fantastic scene where all of Meryl Streep's energy is channelised to her hand. When I saw it again on friday, it was almost like seen it again for the first time. And I was mesmerised. It was exquisite. Brief Encounter of the 1990s but better, oh so much better. I connected to it in a way that I haven't of lately - it is possible that I was in need of an adult love story that had something other than a fairytale happy ending, but even so, I loved it.

And yet, the story couldn't be simpler. A bored housewife (Meryl Streep) embarcs on a four day affair with a photographer (played by Clint Eastwood) while her husband is away with their kids.

So what makes it exceptional? Well, it is a grasping story. It's a meeting of soul mates in adverse conditions. But it's above all, two of the best performances ever. Meryl Streep in particular gives what is arguably her best best performance of the last 20 years. Everything she does seems so natural, so instinctive. The way she touches her arms and chest, the way she trembles when he touches her, the odd mistakes she makes when speaking. I absolutely loved it. And hopefully next time, even if it takes me some other 13 years, I'll love it even more.