Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward star as an unyielding lawyer Walter Bridge and his pliant wife India Bridge in director James Ivory’s 1990 tale of an upper-class Kansas family between World War One and World War Two.
Newman and Woodward work beautifully together to convey the erosion of passion but a similar lack of passion in the story and the direction make this a bloodless film, as the five-member family starts to fall apart through the clash between the patriarch’s conservatism and his grown-up children’s progressive values.
Audience involvement begins to erode and evaporate amid a succession of more or less interesting incidents that do not really add up to an actual story. And, after more than two hours, the film does not have an effective climax either.
However, it is a civilised, intelligent film, and certainly worth a look for the real-life married Newmans, particularly the Oscar and Golden Globe Best Actress-nominated Woodward, who also won the New York Critics’ Award for Best Actress. It is now valuable as a precious film with Newman and Woodward together.
Also in the cast are Robert Sean Leonard, Margaret Welsh, Kyra Sedgwick, Blythe Danner, Simon Callow, Austin Pendleton, Saundra McClain and Remak Ramsay.
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s screenplay is based on Evan S Connell’s novels Mr Bridge and Mrs Bridge.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4183
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