Some called it a snooze-fest, while others tearfully clutched their Kleenex. In any case, Clint Eastwood was an unusual and (as it turned out) perceptive choice to direct and costar in this lush adaptation of Robert James Waller's phenomenally bestselling novel. Meryl Streep costars as Francesca, the lonely Iowa farmer's wife who is instantly attracted to Robert (Eastwood), the photographer from National Geographic who is in the area to photograph the bridges along Iowa's rural roadways. The two fall in love while Francesca's husband and children are away at a county fair, but the story's passion and lasting appeal derive from their decision to part forever after just a few brief days of intimate connection. Superbly acted with an emphasis on quiet, graceful moments of tender revelation, the film builds to a crescendo of powerful and conflicting emotions. Like David Lean's Brief Encounter (to which it bears marked similarities), The Bridges of Madison County is destined to become one of the classic movie love stories. --Jeff Shannon
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