The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

the_bridges_of_madison_county.pngWell this post marks an interesting change because TSPDT just released the 2018 version of the list which means that I’m back to literally square one and now none of my posts are going to be in order. I’m very disheartened, but I’ll pull through it and keep on with my reviews.

When I watched The Bridges of Madison County it was at #985, it has now climbed to #855 so I didn’t watch it for nothing, I just watched it too early. This is one of those movies I’d heard of in passing but knew nothing about. It’s the story of a married woman who spends a weekend with a photographer and falls in love. This is a movie directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, and I will admit that I don’t have the best track record with him. There are movies he’s in that I’ve liked, but generally it’s not because he’s in it. He is usually the one criticism I have about the movies. Because of that I mostly want to talk about his relationship with Meryl Streep and the structure of how the story was told.

I’ll start with the leads’ relationship which, if I’m being entirely honest, I didn’t find that great. I thought Meryl Streep gave an amazing performance as usual, and Clint Eastwood did a good job but I didn’t end up very invested in their romance. Clint Eastwood was very straight faced most of the time and it was hard to really understand what he was thinking or feeling. I hear you’re supposed to cry during this movie, and there’s a scene near the end that I think is the one that’s supposed to do it for you. While I can understand how heartbreaking it is to lose your love, it just didn’t get me anywhere near crying. But one thing I did do more that I expected during this movie was laugh. Meryl Streep is just amazingly funny. Every time she laughed it had me laughing. Hands down, my favorite part of the movie is when he’s handing her flowers and she tells him they’re poisonous so he straight up drops them on the ground then she starts uncontrollably laughing. I was laughing my ass off with her… I don’t know why I found it so funny but I loved it. She truly is one of the greats and can bring you right into the movie. With a different actor opposite her I might’ve been able to connect more with what they were going through.

Then again, maybe not because now I want to talk about the structure of the story which I think helped to lessen the emotional impact it had on me. The story is told through Meryl’s diaries that are being read by her children after she passes away. I believe this drastically reduced the tension and emotion they could have gotten out of the last “will they, won’t they” scene in the movie. You know they won’t because her kids don’t even know about the guy. If they had done the entire movie in chronological order, or even left it ambiguous from the beginning, the story would’ve packed a larger punch. Then again, Titanic did the same thing and I still felt emotions through it, so what do I know. I just needed something extra to get me to that crying place, and this movie didn’t provide it for me.

As an objective viewer, this was a very good romantic drama and it sure does deserve a place on the list. If you’re into these kinds of movies and haven’t seen it yet, you might as well give it a watch. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed because even if it doesn’t make you cry, it’s a good watch for Meryl Streep’s performance alone.

Verdict: 7.5/10 Maybe don’t give away the end of the movie at the beginning of the movie


Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)


Kramer vs. Kramer was a movie I decided to watch on a whim and the fact that it won a few Oscars back in its day didn’t hurt. On the one hand, I was excited to see this movie because I heard there’s a courtroom scene and courtroom dramas are one of my favourites, on the other hand, if I’m being really honest, whenever I hear Dustin Hoffman in a movie it makes me think of Rain Man and, depending on the movie, kinda ruins it. I’m glad to say this movie wasn’t Marathon Man or The Graduate for me, and Dustin Hoffman was very un-Rain Man like. Not only was he not Rain Man, he was one third of an amazing main cast. The acting in this movie blew my mind. What blew my mind the most was the ability of the actors to express their emotions with just their body language. Those lingering shots of tears welling up inĀ  their eyes made them well up in mine. I’m pretty sure I cried during three scenes in this movie. The script and acting was so well done that I couldn’t help but feel the reality of the situation. I’m fortunate enough that my parents never divorced so maybe I’m off base a little, but this movie seemed like a very realistic portrayal of the effect that a parent abandoning a family can have on everyone involved. I loved the trainwreck of a breakfast Ted made when Joanna first left and seeing the progression and teamwork he and Billy had at the end of the movie when they made the same breakfast. The best part of that scene was that no words were needed. It was bittersweet because you see just how great of a father Ted has become but you know that it will come to an end soon.

All the characters in the movie really grew from who they were in the beginning. Joanna became more aware of her needs as a woman and a person, but at the same time she realized that what she did really hurt her son and that she shouldn’t hurt him again. Ted had the most growth, going from a workaholic father who ignored his family to a loving father who would do anything to be there for his son. All of this was amazing, but it was really Billy who pulled it all together. The performance he gave as such a small child was incredible. It was him that really sold the story and it was him that made me cry the most. His reaction when his dad read him the letter from his mom, when his dad came into his room in the middle of the night after their big fight to make up, and when his dad was explaining that he had to leave to live with his mom were all done so masterfully. Whether or not people think this deserved to win any Oscars, it’s hard to deny the fact that it is a great movie.

But it wasn’t all good because the scene when Billy falls in the park was cheesy to the point that it made me laugh. It was done so it could be used later in the court scene to show that Ted is a bad father for letting his son get hurt, but I feel like they could have found a better way for it to happen. This is definitely one of those scenes that would have been much different if they had cell phones. Instead of Ted running to the hospital with his son in his arms, he would have just called an ambulance. Another face palm inducing scene is when Phyllis runs to the bathroom completely naked and meets Billy in the hallway. She knows there’s a kid in the house, maybe best to play it safe and put some clothes on when you leave the bedroom next time.

The negatives in this movie are just small cheesy potatos though; the positives make up a giant mutant potato that leaves me feeling very satisfied. I enjoyed this one a lot and definitely recommend this if you’re in the mood for a movie that has a great story, great character development and even greater acting.

Verdict: 9/10 Don’t you eat that ice cream!