T H E B R I D G E S O F M A D I S O N C O U N T Y
screenplay adaption by
MARCH 24, 1994, FIRST DRAFT
Our story begins in 1965, on a hot afternoon in August.
EXT. IOWA LANDSCAPE - DAY
Rolling green hills, lush farmland, vast open space. Not a
house or sign of life in sight. On a long dusty road, a TRUCK
is driving across the screen. Clouds of dirt follow in its
tracks -- its motor, the only sound we hear.
INT. TRUCK - DAY
FRANCESCA JOHNSON is sitting in the front seat of the pick-up
truck. Her expression is distant. Her eyes are sad, as if
hiding a burden she can hardly bear. Her husband, RICHARD
JOHNSON, is driving.
You feeling better Franny?
Yes. I'm fine. It's just this heat I
He nods, satisfied. He turns on the radio as the VOICE OF
DINAH WASHINGTON sings a bluesy, haunting love song, "I'LL
CLOSE MY EYES."
"I'LL CLOSE MY EYES... TO EVERYONE
BUT YOU... AND WHEN I DO... I'LL SEE
YOU STANDING THERE..."
What station is this?
It's a Chicago station. I found it
the other day.
Kinda pretty. Is this uh... jazz
I don't know. Can we turn it off? I
have such a headache.
Richard shuts it off. Francesca turns her face away from him
to look out at the vast expanse out of the countryside.
EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY
The truck stops in front of an isolated FARM HOUSE. A wooden
gate stands twenty yards from the front door. A barn and a
hot house sits on either side, surrounded by acres and acres
of beautiful pasture.
CAROLYN JOHNSON, a sixteen-year-old girl, steps out from the
vegetable garden with an arm full of vegetable. She watches
her parents exit the truck.
Francesca carries her groceries, walking briskly through the
front gate and entering the house.
Richard grabs a bag of feed from the flatbed and strolls more
leisurely. When he walks through the front gate, he notices
something on the ground and picks it up. It is a BUTTON with
RED NATURAL surrounding it. As if it had been torn from a
piece of clothing. His daughter approaches him.
Your mother isn't feel well. I want
you to help her out tonight with
Tell Michael to put this feed away.
He puts the feed bag down. She exits. He enters the house.
INT. FRONT HALL - DAY
Richard enters the front hall opposite the stairs to the
second floor. To his left is the living room. To his right,
through an archway is the kitchen. He moves towards the stair
when he suddenly hears the kitchen radio turned on and "I'LL
CLOSE MY EYES" continues. It puzzles him. He looks to the
kitchen. Francesca is obviously there but we can't see her.
He is about to call to her when his son, Michael, yells:
Dad! You bought the wrong feed!
He exits through the house to the back door.
INT. KITCHEN - LATER
The family-- Francesca, Richard, Carolyn and their seventeen-
year-old son MICHAEL -- are eating supper. No one speaks.
So what are you going to do with the
I don't know. I might save up for one
of those hi-fi stereo players like
Francesca nods. Silence again. She asks her son:
Are you seeing Betty tonight?
Silence. She is used to her son's one syllable answers.
Oh! Frannie, is this yours?
He places the button with red material on the table. Hiding
her surprise, Francesca takes the button.
You found it! I got my dress caught
on that damn gate. You must have eyes
like a hawk.
You must all be tired. You got home
so early. What time did you leave
Illinos this morning?
Well you should all go to bed early.
I'll do the cleaning up.
This last remark she addresses to her daughter. Everyone
returns to their silent eating.
INT. JOHNSON HOUSE - NIGHT
The house is asleep and dark except for a bright light coming
from the kitchen. Carolyn quietly exits her bedroom in her
nightclothes. She was awakened by noises coming from the
INT. KITCHEN -
She enters to find the lights are on. An empty cake pan and
a half-used bowl of frosting sitting unwashed in the sink.
She hears the motor of the truck being turned on. She moves
to the front hall and looks out through the door to see:
The truck driving away. She calls out:
But she gets no response. She stands there wondering where
her mother could possibly being going this time of night, as
THIRTY YEARS LATER - SAME LOCATION
Carolyn, thirty years older, stands in the same doorway of
the same house thinking back to that evening her mother acted
A LAWYER is unpacking a briefcase in the living room off the
Carolyn sees a car with Florida plates driving up to the
house. She smiles.
EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY
Carolyn steps out of the doorway and heads for the car, out
of which exit her brother Michael and his country girl wife
BETTY, a stout buxom chatterbox. Both boast Florida tans and
Explain to me again why we didn't do
this in Des Moines in an air
I have some sandwich fixings if
No, we just had lunch at the hotel
with my brother and his new wife. She
told me all the dirt. I forgot how
interesting things can get around
here. It was so good to see them. The
last time we visited they were in
Europe. He is doing so well. He
ordered champagne. For lunch! I
I nearly died when we split the bill.
Michael doesn't understand. People
who make the kind of money my brother
makes don't carry money on them. They
keep it all in various accounts.
Then we should have had lunch at the
Carolyn tries not to laugh. Betty shoots him a dirty look,
then stops to take in the house and its surroundings.
Boy. It sure has been a long time.
We were here two Christmases ago.
Well, that's a long time.
It's not that long.
Well, why don't I just say black so
you can say white!
Don't be surprised to find your
brother hasn't changed an iota. He
hardly ever talks and when he does
it's in that tone! You should have
heard him at lunch -- not two words
until the bill came and then he says,
"Worth every penny."
You said it in that tone! Like you
were angry at me, my brother, at
the world for forcing you to eat a
(staring to cry)
I simply can not stand that tone!
Come inside. You're just tired from
She comforts Betty who indulges in the attention.
I am so sick and tired of apologizing
and not knowing what I've done!
I'm sure you haven't done anything.
Have some iced tea. How are the kids?
He dropped them off at Betty's mom.
He's not coming.
Betty suddenly stops crying and abrasively focuses on
Aw, is he still cheating on you,
Carolyn suddenly hoses sympathy for her.
INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY
The lawyer hands Michael a document.
Just sign here as having received the
contents from the safe deposit box.
And this one, which clears the bank
of all further responsibility fo0r the
Betty whispers to Carolyn.
This is kind of exciting. You think
we'll find out your mother had
secret millions lying around?
Carolyn smiles weakly. Michael hands back the papers.
All right. Why don't we begin.
He takes out Francesca's Last Will and Testament.
Your mother has been interred at
Lakeside Funeral Home until
arrangements can be made.
I thought everything WAS arranged.
Well, there's a problem.
Your mother left explicit
instructions that she wished to be
I know. I don't understand it either.
When did she decide this?
Apparently just before her death.
Well, that's crazy. I don't know
anybody who gets cremated.
My Jewish friend's grandmother did.
Well, no one in my family did! Dad
bought cemetery plots at Oak Ridge.
One for him, one for mom.
It clearly states in the will --
I don't care what it says! Maybe Mama
was delirious, you know. She didn't
know what she was saying. If she
wanted to be cremated, why the hell
did she let dad buy two plots, huh?
Well, she was very specific. She
wanted her ashes to be thrown over
Mr. Peterson, are you sure mama wrote
Well, it was notarized, and witnessed
by a Mrs. Lucy Delaney. Maybe you can
Who the hell is Lucy Delaney?
I remember a Mrs. Delaney but Mama
told me years ago she died.
Well, I don't care if it's legal or
not, we're not cremating her and
throwing her all over some bridge
where we can't even go visit her
because she's going to be blown all
over the place like an ashtray.
Not to mention people driving over
her and doggies doing their business --
We're not doing it! I'm not even sure
Maybe it's an Italian thing. Their
mother was Italian.
Doesn't matter. Move on.
The women dare not object. The lawyer raises his eyebrows
Well, we'll come back to that. Shall
we open the box?
JUMP CUT TO:
C.U. SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX
A key is inserted and the lid is opened. There are many
papers, deeds, et. Michael begins sorting through these.
Carolyn notices a manila envelope addressed to her mother,
postmarked 1965. She opens it up to find TWO LETTERS and A
PHOTOGRAPH -- FRANCESCA standing NEAR A COVERED BRIDGE, her
hair wind blown, her expression serene, beautiful and sad.
She wears a RED DRESS with buttons down the front.
Michael, look -- I've never seen this
picture of mama. Have you?
Betty and Michael look over her shoulder. He shakes "no."
It was in this envelope from 1965.
She's not wearing a bra.
(takes bridge photo)
This is Roseman Bridge in case
Interested yes, but no one thinks anything of it. Michael
returns to the other papers. Betty takes the photograph for
further examination. Carolyn opens one of the letters and
begins to read.
The following dialogue is heard OS, as CAMERA ANGLES ON
CAROLYN reading one of the letters:
It's a beautiful picture of her.
Why are there two deeds here?
One of for the original parcel your
father bought and this one is for the
additional acres he purchased in '59.
Those are bills of sale from the
equipment your mother sold in ..
Throughout their conversation, we focus on Carolyn as she
reads and her expression sinks into one of shock and
confusion. She flips to the last page of the letter to read
who it is from. She can't believe her eyes.
Carolyn jumps a little, so engrossed in her discovery. She
Oh, just a old letter from a friend.
No treasure maps, huh?
Betty starts inspecting knit knacks around the house she
might be able to take. Carolyn looks to Michael.
Come here a minute.
Michael crosses impatiently to Carolyn. Carolyn looks around
to the others, then guides him OS into the kitchen for
privacy. He protests.
What? Where are we going?
They exit. Alone with the impatient lawyer, Betty examines a
vase as she pumps him for info.
Did she say anything in there about
me? Leaving me anything in particular?
Betty prattles on as she examines each item, much to the
lawyer's dismay, hiding her resentment and hurt.
I didn't expect so. She never liked
me. It's okay. I always knew. Thought
we married too young. Nobody broke
his arm -- that's what I said but you
know mothers and their sons. Also,
she never liked the fact of us moving
to Florida although what's where the
opportunities were. Couldn't deny
that. Suppose we should have visited
more but you know she hardly ever
made an effort to come to Tampa. Not
even to see her grandchildren. She
was a cold woman. They say Italians
are hot-blooded but not her. She was
cool as ice.
(picks up a
She leaves these to anyone?
Michael and Carolyn re-enter the living room. Michael's
expression now matches Carolyn in disbelief.
What's going on?
Um... we were just wondering how it
might be better if me and Carolyn
went over the stuff by ourselves. Not
keep you two waiting around. I'll
contact your office about the legal
Grateful, the lawyer packs up to leave.
I don't mind waiting.
Well, there's a lot of boring stuff to
do. Lists of people we have to write
to. Find mama's relatives addresses
in Italy -- stuff like that.
Well, I can help.
I said NO!
That came out a bit aggressively. Betty is hurt.
Why don't you go to your mothers. Or
back to the hotel. Sit in some air
conditioning. Take a bath.
I do not need instructions from you
(gets her bag)
I knew you'd do this! I knew I'd come
all the way here and be shut out as
usual! I came to be here for you! I
didn't have to come!
Lord knows I was never much welcome
in this house before. Apparently dead
or alive, nothing's changed.
Carolyn feels badly for her. An impatient Michael refuses
sympathy. Embarrassed, Betty starts to exit then stops at
Carolyn -- you want these
No. You can have them.
Betty grabs them both and exits. Carolyn looks at him
disapprovingly. Michael takes the letter from her hand.
Now what's this about?
INT. KITCHEN - LATER
Sitting at the kitchen table, Carolyn is in the middle of
reading the letter to Michael.
"-- going over and over in my mind
every detail, every moment of our
time together and I ask myself, "What
happened to me in Madison County?" I
struggle to put it together in a way
that allows me to continue knowing
we're on separate roads. But then I
look through the lens of my camera,
and you're there. I start to write an
article and I find myself writing it
to you. It's clear to me now we have
been moving towards each other,
towards those four days, all our
Goddamn sonofabitch! I don't want to
hear anymore! Sonofabitch! Burn the
damn thing! I don't want to hear it!
Throw it away!
Carolyn continues reading silently. Michael's curiosity gets
the best of him:
What's he saying now?
Well, he just gets on about how if
mama ever needed him, she could find
him through the National Geographic
magazine. He as a photographer. He
promises not to write again. Then all
it says is...
I love you... Robert.
Robert! Jesus! I'll kill him.
That would be some trick. He's
already dead. That's what this other
(takes letter and
From his attorney. He left most of
his things to mama and requested...
That he be cremated and his ashes
thrown on Roseman Bridge.
DAMN HIM! I knew mama wouldn't have
thought of that herself. It was some
damn perverted... photographic mind
influencing her! When did the bastard
Wait a minute! That was thirty years
after daddy. Do you think...?
I don't know. I'm completely in the
dark here. That's what I get for
This happened way before we both got
married. I... I can't believe it.
You think she had sex with him?
Carolyn cannot believe he is this dense.
My Lord. It must feel real nice
living inside your head with Peter
Pan and the Easter Bunny.
Don't talk to me like that. She was
my mother for Christsakes. And now I
find out she was... She was a --!
Don't say that!
Well, what am I supposed to think?
I can't believe she never told me? We
spoke at least once a week. How could
she do that?
How did she meet him? Did Dad know?
Anything else in that envelope?
No, I don't think so. I --
She dumps it over and a SMALL KEY FALLS OUT. Pause, as
Carolyn and Michael look to each other -- they grab the key
and run out of the kitchen, almost comically falling over
each other in their obsession to put this puzzle together.
A SERIES OF JUMP CUT --
From one lock to another as they try to find the keyhole that
fits the key -- they try closets, attic doors, jewelry boxes,
night tables, vanity drawers... Finally --
INT. BEDROOM - DAY
At the foot of their parents bed sits an WALNUT HOPE CHEST,
covered with a tapestry. Michael and Carolyn look to each
other first, before one removes the tapestry and the other
tries the key. It fits. They open the chest to find:
Camera equipment, a chain with a medallion that reads
"FRANCESCA," three leather bound notebooks -- and a sealed
envelope with "Carolyn or Michael" written on it.
You read it!
Carolyn relents. She takes out the lefter and reads:
"January, 1987. Dear Carolyn. I hope
you're reading this with Michael. I'm
sure he wouldn't be able to read it
by himself and he'll need some help
understanding all this, especially
the parts about me having sex..."
Insulted, Michael pulls the lefter out of her hand and
defiantly attempts to read it aloud himself to disprove his
mother's claim. But after looking at a few lines, he
surrenders and hands the lefter back to his sister.
"First, and most of all, I love you
both very much and although I feel
fine, I thought it was time to put my
affairs, excuse that word, in order."
I can't believe she's making jokes.
Sshhh. "After going through the
safety deposit box, I'm sure you'll
find you're way to this letter. It's
hard to write this to my own
children. I could let this die with
the rest of me, I suppose.
But as one gets older, one fears
subside. What becomes more and more
important is to be known -- known for
all that you were during this brief
stay. Row said it seems to me to leave
this earth without hose you love the
most ever really knowing who you
were. It's easy for a mother to love
her children no matter what -- it's
something that just happens. I don't
know if it's as simple for children.
You're all so busy being angry at us
for raising you wrong. But I thought
it was important to give you that
chance. To give you the opportunity
to love me for all that I was..."
Carolyn and Michael look to each other like two school
children about to take a difficult exam. They continue.
"His name was Robert Kincaid. He was
a photographer and he was here in
1965 shooting an article for National
Geographic on the covered bridges of
Madison County. Remember when we got
that issue and looked at those
bridges we'd seen for years but never
noticed? How we felt like
celebrities? Remember when we started
getting the subscription?
They don't remember.
I don't want you to be angry with
him. I hope after you know the whole
story, you might even think well of
him. Even grateful.
"... It's all there in the three
notebooks. Read them in order.
If you don't want to, I suppose
that's okay too. But in that case I
want you to know something -- I never
stopped loving your father. He was a
very good man. It's just that my love
for Robert was different. He brought
out something in me no one had ever
brought out before, or since. He made
me feel like a woman in a way few
women, maybe more, ever experience..."
Grabbing the letter, he starts putting everything back in the
What are you doing?
This is crazy. She waits till she's
dead to tell us all this. Well, I got
news for you. She was my mother.
That's enough for me. I don't have to
know who she was.
Well, I'd like to read them.
No. We're going to lock this up and --
I want to read them! If you don't
want to, then just leave. But don't
you push me around like I'm some mule
you paid for -- I already GOT A
Michael is stymied.
INT. KITCHEN - LATER
Carolyn opens the first notebook which is dated AUGUST 1965.
Michael sits beside her with a cup of coffee.
"I suppose his coming into my life
was, in many ways, prepared for
weeks, maybe even months before.
There was a restlessness I feeling.
Out of the blue and for no apparent
reason. There's nothing more
frightening to a woman whose been
settled down for almost twenty years
than to suddenly feel unsettled. I
don't know when it started ... I do
remember one night in particular, a
little over a week before Robert
CAROLYN'S VOICE BECOMES FRANCESCA'S VOICE AS WE:
INT. JOHNSON'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
Richard is fast asleep while Francesca sits up in bed reading.
"It was late at night after a long
day. Your father was tired -- fighting
all afternoon with that new
equipment Robert Harrison convinced
him to buy. But I wasn't tired.
Lately, I could hardly sleep more
than two hours a night. I was reading
some John O'Hara novel, skimming the
words, turning the pages without
absorbing what I was reading. My mind
was far away. And no matter how I
tried, I couldn't call it back."
Francesca closes the book and turns off the light. She
nestles into the bed and tries to sleep. After a beat, she
opens her eyes and turns on the light. As she gets out of bed
she awakens Richard.
What time is it?
Later. Go back to sleep.
Where you going?
I'm not tired. I thought I might
finish Carolyn's skirt.
It's after eleven.
I can't sleep.
Again? Maybe you should see a doctor.
I'm not sick, Richard. I'm just not
tired, now go back to sleep before
you're up for the whole night too!
Francesca exits. Richard nestles under the covers, mumbling:
If you're not sick, how can it be
INT. ATTIC - NIGHT
Francesca sits at her sewing machine, working on Carolyn's
skirt. When the thread runs out, she checks her sewing box
for another spool of that color. Not finding it, she raises
and walks to an opened closet. She pulls on a light cord and
checks her supplies.
There are shelves of boxes, crates, old clothes and shoes all
crammed together. She pulls out one shoe box and an entire
stack of items tumble off the shelf onto her head.
Damn it! Shit!
She looks at the mess and decides it's time to re-organize.
The clock reads 2:30 AM. The closet has been emptied.
Francesca rummages through box after box.
Two huge piles have been created -- one for items to be thrown
away, another for items to be kept. Francesca is wiping the
bare shelves down with a rag and some cleanser. Looking up to
the bottom of the next shelf, she notices A SHOULDER STRAP
hanging, wedged between the wall and the shelf. Pulling over
a stool, she steps up to be eye level with the shelf.
It is an OLD HANDBAG -- of a style not seen since the forties
when she was a young girl. She pulls it down to examine. It
is very dusty and worn, but the snaps still work. She places
it against her side to see if it would still be fashionable.
She opens it and finds an old lipstick -- reading the bottom
where the name of the shade is located.
Ha, they don't even made this color
She exits the closet and moves to an old mirror, trying the
lipstick on. As she decides whether or not she likes it, a
thought occurs to her... she remembers something.
She crosses back to the handbag and feels the inside for a
compartment hidden by a flap of material and a snap. She
unsnaps it and an old BACK & WHITE PHOTO slips out. She
looks at its image -- two young people against an Italian
background. Francesca is twenty years younger with her arms
around a handsome, black-haired charmer named --
"Niccolo. I couldn't remember the
last time I had seen that face. And
then the memories wouldn't stop.
Like an avalanche..."
EXT. NAPLES COUNTRYSIDE, 20 YEARS EARLIER - DAY
A hot, breezy summer day. A young vibrant Francesca is
storming through an open field, angry, while Niccolo calls
after her in pursuit.
The following scene is played in Italian with subtitles.
Francesca! Francesca! Where the hell
are you going?
Leave me alone!
You play these games and I'm supposed
to follow -- run after you like a
schoolboy. Well, I'm not! I'm fed up!
Niccolo stops. Several yards ahead of him, Francesca stops
and turns. Suddenly, she storms back towards him until they
are face to face.
So that's it! You just give up!
What "give up"? You agreed with them!
Mommy and Daddy said stay away from
me and you said all right. What am I
supposed to do?
Fight for me!
Niccolo grabs her violently.
ENOUGH! You don't know what you want!
Stop looking for me to tell you! STOP
Francesca knows he's right. He releases her.
We can go back now and end it or we
can go back and you tell them off.
This is your choice! Not mine. But I
won't do this anymore. This is for
Frustrated and sad, Francesca sits upon the ground. Niccolo
knows she cannot face her parents yet he looks sympathetic.
EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAWN 1965
Francesca sits on the back porch in her bathrobe, looking out
over the pasture as if she were watching the previous scene
happen right before her eyes.
In the pasture stands NICCOLO as he was twenty years ago.
Memories have overlapped. A field in Naples is now a pasture
in Iowa and Niccolo is as real to her as the grass. He is
staring at her seated on the porch of her Iowa home, a woman
twenty yards older than when he knew her. He smiles.
"I had forgotten this. I had somehow
remembered it being more his fault,
his decision. Then I remembered we
made love in that field before we
left for home. And I remembered it
was my idea. I remembered tearing
his shirt and biting his body, hoping
he would kidnap me. I had forgotten
that too. And I wondered, as I sat
there... how many other things I'd
Startled, Francesca turns as if she were caught in the act.
Richard is fully dressed, prepared to start the day.
Francesca turns back to the pasture -- Niccolo is gone.
INT. JOHNSON HOUSE - EVENING
It is a week later. Francesca is making dinner. A COUNTRY
STATION is tuned in on the radio.
"The following week was the Illinos
State Fair. The two of you were going
with dad to exhibit Carolyn's prize
steer. It was the Sunday night you
left. I know it sounds awful but I
couldn't wait for you all to leave.
You were going to be gone until
Friday. Four days...
Just four days..."
Francesca's expression looks as if she needs a break from her
family for more like four years.
Michael! Carolyn! Richard! Dinner!
She sets down a bowl of potatoes, a plate of sausages, coffee
and corn as one by one her family enters and sits down.
Michael enters through a screen door from the back, letting
the DOOR SLAM SHUT.
Michael, what did I tell you about
Richard enters after Michael, letting the door SLAM THE same
way. Francesca is about to say something, but gives up.
Everyone begins eating -- in complete silence.
When Michel can't open the ketchup bottle, Francesca grabs
it, palms the top skillfully and twists it off. She hands it
back to Michael who makes no comment.
When Richard scans the table for something that obviously
isn't there, Francesca is up out of her seat before he can
ask, at the fridge, grabbing the sour cream, closing the
fridge and back at the table with incredible swiftness.
When Michel moves his big arm to reach for the salt, he
knows over his cup and saucer, which Francesca catches with
both hands before they hit the floor. Her reflexes are like
a trained athlete.
Finally, Francesca is able to sit and sip her coffee. She
watches her teenage daughter fill her plate with a blank
expression that lets nothing slip through -- no indication of
all the tempests of emotions that go through a teenage girl.
You excited about going, Carolyn?
Without looking up, Carolyn fakes a smile. Looking at her,
Francesca remembers Carolyn as a three-year-old girl:
In the same kitchen, THREE-YEAR-OLD CAROLYN runs around her
mother's feet completely naked, squealing with delight as
Francesca flicks her water from the tap.
Francesca watches as Carolyn eats in silence, distant, locked
in her own secret teenage thoughts and dreams.
Francesca then looks to her son, shoveling food into his
mouth at an alarming rate. She attempts a conversation.
How was your date last night?
(w/o looking at her)
What's her name?
What's she like?
Silence. Frustrated, Francesca has a fantasy -
Francesca picks up a blunt butter knife, rises out of her seat,
grabs her son and shoves the knife at his throat:
Do you like her?
Michael finally reacts with more than one word -- frightened
for his life.
Uh... Yeah. Yeah. She's real nice.
Well, what's nice about her? Tell us!
Well, she's... she's real pretty and
... and she's got a cute shape...
she's a good sport, ya know, for
... she loves fried chicken wings and
Isn't that nice? You should bring her
home to meet us!
Francesca looks at Michael in disgust.
We better get moving.
You sure you don't want to come?
Francesca looks at Richard with complete conviction.
I'm going to miss you.
It's only four days.
He gives her a sweet peck on the lips. Francesca smiles,
anxious for them all to leave.
INT. JOHNSON HOUSE - LATER THAT NIGHT
Alone, dressed in her bathrobe, Francesca checks the front
door. She crosses to the living. Noticing two throw pillows
on the floor, she arranged them neatly on the couch. She sits
herself in an easy chair then flicks on a reading lamp and
opens her book. After five seconds, she closes the book. She
crosses to the TV and turns it on, then turns it off before
the picture tuned in.
She turns and leans on the TV, flicking the ON/OFF switch on
and off as her mind wanders. She gets an idea. She crosses to
the hi-fi and looks through several albums she got from her
Columbia Record Club. But nothing inspires her and she
quickly loses the desire for music. She's antsy. She has this
time alone and she doesn't know how to spend it.
She walks through the dining room, passing a china closet
filled with fancy dishes and glasses. She stops. Shoved in
the corner behind is an old, un-opened bottle of BRANDY. She
removes up, setting atop the dining table to open it.
But when she catches a reflection of herself in the window
opposite her, she stops. She sees a lonely, frustrated woman
in a tattered bathrobe anxious to open a bottle of liquor.
Deflated, she returns the brandy to the cupboard and exits.
EXT. BACK PORCH - NIGHT
Francesca sits on the porch with a book in her lap, gazing
out over the pasture. It's a hot night. She opens the top of
her rope a bit. Feeling the air against her skin, she decides
to open it a bit more. She gets an idea.
Standing, she looks to see if anyone is around -- though
rationally she knows there isn't a soul for miles. She turns
off the porch light. With a brave and daring impulse, she
sheds her bathrobe and stand naked under the night sky. The
air feels good against her body. She opens her arms up
against the night sky and moon like an Indian priestess.
Suddenly, she starts hitting her body as mosquitoes begin
attacking her bare torso. Thwarted, she quickly covers
herself with a robe and runs into the house.
INT. KITCHEN - MORNING
Francesca trudges into the kitchen. As if on automatic, she
takes the coffee pot and fills it with water. She gets the
coffee and begins spooning it out. She stops. She gets the
idea of taking herself out for breakfast and dumps the coffee
EXT. MAIN STREET; WINTERSET - MORNING
A one street town. On either side are rows of storefronts, an
old coffee shop/diner, a bank, a medical center, a newspaper
building, a courthouse and a movie theater showing CAT BALLOU.
The steeple of the local church is the highest structure,
towering over the town from the end of Main Street.
INT. COFFEE SHOP/DINER - MORNING
Dressed in jeans and a light summer blouse, Francesca sits
alone -- treating herself to breakfast and the paper. Some of
the gossip news includes rumors of Frank Sinatra, 49,
marrying Mia Farrow, 19: Cary Grant 61, marrying DYAN CANNON,
27. Francesca shakes her head in disbelief at such news.
She tries to continue reading, but is distracted by the loud
conversation in the booth beside her:
TWO MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN and ONE MIDDLE-AGED HUSBAND sit after
breakfast discussing the local gossip.
Oh, this heat! Times like this I wish
we took that offer from your brother
and moved on up to Michigan.
They got heat in Michigan.
Not this kind of heat.
Heat is heat.
Heat is not heat! There's different
kinds! And this heat is much hotter
than what they got in Michigan. You
go and call your brother and see if
he don't say the same thing.
I'll get right on it.
Mrs. Delaney, an attractive well-off woman in her forties,
enters the shop and heads for the counter.
Did you hear the latest?
Apparently, she caught them.
Ran right into them in Des Moines in
the middle of her shopping.
Oh, what a horror. Poor woman. That
Redfield girl's got no business
showing her face in daylight.
I don't know how that tramp stands
living here. No one can bear even
speaking to her. She has no friends.
Well, nobody put a gun to his head.
Oh, shut up! It's the woman who's in
control of these situations. Men
don't know which end is up till a
Mrs. Delaney acts as if nothing is wrong. Yet, she knows
everyone knows and everyone knows she knows they know, yet no
one says a word. She sits at the counter.
Just coffee, please.
Francesca hears the gossip continue in hushed tones:
See. Money don't buy happiness. I
must say, she's taking it well.
I'd kill him. Him and that Redfield
woman. Together. First one then the
other. And then I'd laugh.
I'd laugh first then I'd kill them.
Make sure they heard me laughing.
Eleanor nods. Not being able to stand it, Francesca rises.
She must pass them on the way to the counter, in order to
pay. Eleanor immediately stops her.
Francesca! So, everybody got off okay
What you going to do all alone for
four days -- a woman of leisure?
Oh, you know there's always something
to be done. Have a good day. Henry.
Henry nods back. As she exits, they whisper.
She used to be so friendly.
Maybe she's going through "the
Eleanor hits him in the chest.
What do you know about "the changes"?
Well, I didn't know they was a secret
Don't talk about what you don't know.
Besides, she's too young for "the
My niece had "the changes" when she
No. What a tragedy. What happened?
At the counter, Francesca pays up. She looks to Mrs. Delaney
and tries to smile, but Mrs. Delaney works hard at not making
eye contact with anyone. Suddenly, she rises telling the
Excuse me for a moment, I left
something in the car.
She exits quickly. Francesca pays up as the waitress adds:
EXT. COFFEE SHOP/DINER - MORNING
Francesca exits and heads for her truck. As she crosses from
one corner to another, she notices down the side street --
Mrs. Delaney sitting alone in her own car, sobbing. Unable to
bear the humiliation, she stole herself away to cry.
Francesca wants to help but feels useless. She quickly heads
for her truck.
EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY
Francesca sits on the front porch with some iced tea, trying
to cool herself off. It is a scorcher. She is barefoot, her
blouse hanging out of her jeans, her hair fastened up by a
tortoise shell comb.
Camera begins a slow move into close-up, as she sips her tea
and lets her mind wander. WE INTERCUT HER FANTASIES WITH HER
ON THE PORCH:
FANTASY: Back in town, Francesca slides into Mrs. Delaney's
car. She embraces the woman who cries into her arms.
-- Francesca on the porch.
FANTASY: Mrs. Delaney's car is surrounded by townpeople
staring into it. Francesca hugs Mrs. Delaney closer to her in
-- Francesca on the porch.
FANTASY: Mrs. Delaney's car drives up to a train station. She
and Francesca exit with suitcases. They are surrounded by
news reporters as they make their way to the train.
Mrs. Johnson! Mrs. Johnson! Is it
true Cary Grant has proposed to you?
Yes. And I've accepted.
What about his engagement to Dyan
I said to him Cary you're being
ridiculous. You're more than half her
age. He said no one had ever been
that honest with him and he falls in
love with me.
What about your husband?
I'm very sad but Richard said that
since it's Cary Grant, he completely
understands. I'm also taking Mrs.
Delaney away from this town. She'll
be living with Cary and I in Beverly
She boards the train with Mrs. Delaney.
END OF FANTASIES.
Tired of her fantasies, Francesca looks up to the sun to
clear her mind. It is blinding. When she looks back out onto
the road, her vision is momentarily blurred. Until, slowly,
out of the blue, she sees:
A TRUCK driving toward her house, kicking up dust, like some
phantom appearing through the etheric plane. Francesca isn't
even sure it's real. She sips cool drink & blinks to
regain her vision. The truck slows down and turns into her
driveway. Francesca watches with suspicious curiosity as:
The truck stops and ROBERT KINCAID steps out. Flashing his
blue eyes in her direction, he smiles and says:
Sorry to bother you, but I've got a
feeling I'm lost.
Francesca remains guarded.
Are you supposed to be in Iowa?
Well, you're not that lost.
He laughs. She puts down her tea and crosses to him.
I'm looking for a covered bridge out
this way... uh... wait a minute --
He looks through a small notepad for the name. Francesca
finds herself scanning his body.
Well, you're pretty close. It's only
about two miles from here.
Oh, terrific. Which way?
Pause as Robert awaits directions and Francesca scans a sudden
Well, I can take you if you want.
Robert is pleased, but a bit surprised as is Francesca who
Or I can tell you. I can take you or
tell you. It's up to you. I don't
care. Either way.
Robert smiles finding her sudden nervousness charming.
Suddenly, from the opposite direction of the road, A CHEVY
barrels by. The driver, FLOYD, toots his horn.
He drives off. Francesca knows they've been seen. Slightly
annoyed by Iowain neighborliness, she turns to Robert and
with some defiance says:
It'd be better if I show you, I think.
If I'm not taking you away from
No. I was just going to have some
iced tea then split the atom, but
that can wait.
I just have to get my shoes.
Robert watches her as she turns and heads back to the house.
He watches her lift her blouse and tuck it into her jeans,
revealing her shapely hips and buttocks. He turns back to the
truck and notices the mailbox -- MR & MRS. RICHARD JOHNSON. He
nods as if he knew all along and begins to make room on the
front seat for Francesca.
INT. JOHNSON HOUSE
Francesca is slipping on her boots when she suddenly stops.
"What am I doing?", she asks herself silently.
EXT. JOHNSON DRIVEWAY
Francesca approaches the truck. On the door, she reads:
KINCAID PHOTOGRAPHY, BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON.
Robert is clearing away paper cups, banana peels, paper bags,
photography equipment. In the back, Francesca notices a
cooler and a guitar case.
I wasn't expect company. Let me
get this out of the way.
He hauls a case of film from the front to the back. Francesca
notices his tanned, muscular arm move in one graceful sweep.
Okay. All set.
Francesca smiles. They both get into the truck.
Now, where are we going?
Out, then right.
EXT. MADISON COUNTY ROAD - DAY
As the truck drives, we see no one else in sight.
INT. KINCAID'S TRUCK
They drive in silence. Francesca is enjoying the breeze against
She looks out at the vast expanse. It depresses her.
There's a wonderful smell about
Iowa -- very particular to this part
of the country. Do you know what I
I can't describe it. I think it's
from the loam in the soil. This very
rich, earthy kind of... alive...
No. No, that's not right. Can you
(shakes her head)
Maybe it's because I live here.
That must be it. It's a great smell.
Francesca wants to know more about him.
Are you from Washington originally?
Uh-huh. Lived there till I was twenty
or so and then moved to Chicago when
I got married.
Oh. When did you move back?
After the divorce.
How long you been married?
Umm... long time.
You don't look like a native, if you
don't mind my saying so.
No, I don't mind. I'm not from here.
I was born in Italy.
Well, from Italy to Iowa -- that's a
Whereabouts in Italy?
Small town on the Eastern side no
one's ever heard of called Bari.
Oh yeah, Bari. I've been there.
Oh, yeah. Actually, I had an
assignment in Greece and I had to go
through Bari to get the boat at
Brindisi. But it looked so pretty I
got off and stayed for a few days.
Francesca is overcome by the idea of such freedom.
You just... got off the train because
it looked pretty?
Yeah. Excuse me a sec.
He reaches over with one arm, brushing slightly against her
thigh. He opens the glove compartment and pulls out a pack of
Camels and a Zippo lighter.
Francesca, who doesn't usually smoke, accepts.
She takes a cigarette out of the pack. Robert drops the pack
and, with the same hand, flicks open the Zippo and ignites it.
Francesca leans over. The road is bumpy and a breeze blows
through both windows.
She cups her hands around his to shelter the flame. She feels
his skin for a brief moment.
She sits back and enjoys the ride and her cigarette as Robert
lights up. Silence. They drive.
So, how long you've been living here?
You just got off the train and stayed
without knowing anyone there?
EXT. ROSEMAN BRIDGE - DAY
The truck stops. They exit. Robert takes out some equipment.
This won't take long. I'm shooting
tomorrow morning. I just need to do
some prep work.
I don't mind waiting.
He smiles and takes his equipment to the bridge. Francesca
slowly follows. She watches his body move. Catching herself,
Robert sets up a tripod in the small ravine beneath the
bridge, pointing a view finder up as he plans his shots.
Francesca walks through the bridge, noticing lovers names
scrawled on the inside: CATHY & BUDDY 4 EVER... ROSIE AND
HANK TILL THE END OF TIME. Through a crack in one of the
wooden planks, Francesca watches like a voyeur as Robert
works. She sees him take out a handkerchief and wipe the sweat
off his neck, then inside his shirt and around his chest.
Without knowing where Francesca is, Robert speaks aloud:
Is it always this hot?
Francesca moves quickly away from the plank, like a Peeping
Tom who's been caught.
This time of year.
Would you do me a favor and go to the
truck? Inside that leather bag with
the pockets is a package of lens
cleaners. Would you grab me one?
Francesca obliges, grateful for something to occupy her.
Inside the truck, she scans for the leather bag. She sees it
next to a duffel bag. The bag' zipper is opened. She
glimpses inside as Robert's personal things -- clothes, socks,
underwear, shaving kit. Life magazines from July and August,
one depicting the death of Aldai Stevenson; the other a cover
photo of the Watts riots. She grabs the leather bag and
At the bridge, Francesca looks for Robert in the raving but
he is gone. She looks through the bridge to the other end
and sees only the tripod. No Robert. She walks through the
bridge and out the other end. She finds Robert bent over,
Oh there you are.
Oh! You caught me.
He rises with a bouquet of wildflowers for her.
Thanks for your help.
Francesca smiles, not knowing how to take this.
Men sill give women flowers, don't
they? I mean, as a sign of
appreciation? I'm not that out of
date, am I?
No, not at all --
except those are poisonous.
He flings the flowers down. He wipes his hands furiously.
I'm sorry. I was kidding.
Robert looks at her with a shocked smirk, secretly liking her
I'm sorry. I don't know what -- I'm
sorry. Really. They're lovely.
She begins picking up the flowers.
Are you by nature a sadistic person?
No, I'm not.
(trying not to laugh)
I don't know why I said that. I've
been in a very... strange mood all
day. I've never done anything like
that before. It's... I'm just...
(looking for excuse)
Well, you know, the whole world is
just going nuts.
Robert looks at her like she's nuts. Francesca tries to dig
herself out of her hole. Robert enjoys offering no help.
What with those riots in Los Angeles
and people burning draft cards and
... Adlai Stevenson dying last month.
She rises with the flowers. Robert gives her a friendly pat
on the arm.
Shouldn't let things get to you so
He continues with his work. Francesca expresses relief and
embarrassment behind his back.
INT. TRUCK - LATER
Driving back, Francesca sits with her feet up on the
dashboard. Robert drives while he fiddles with the radio. All
he can find are country stations.
Looking for something in particular?
There's not much of a selection.
I found this Chicago station before.
Wait a minute...
(he tunes it in)
Here it is.
We hear a BLUES SINGER with a sax arrangement.
Oh, that's nice.
Want another cigarette?
Francesca's having a great time.
EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY
Robert's truck drives down the road and into the driveway.
Well, thank you for all your help,
Francesca nods, as if to say hello and goodbye in the same
moment. She gets out of the car, closes the door, then asks:
Would you like some iced tea?
INT. KITCHEN - DAY
Robert fiddles with the kitchen radio, tuning in to the
Chicago station. Francesca is making iced tea. Robert sits
back down at the kitchen table.
With her back to him, Robert never takes his eyes off her.
She turns and crosses to him, with the tea.
Francesca smiles and sips her own. She watches him gulp down
the tea so fast, some of it dribbles down the side of his
face and neck. Francesca finds it sexy. He empties it.
Would you like another one?
Robert nods and he pulls out his cigarettes.
Mind if I smoke?
(at the sink)
Not at all.
Robert lights up as he watches her fix another iced tea. He
watches her slip off one boot, then the other -- never missing
a beat of her preparation. He can't help eyeing her body.
When she returns, she also has the flowers he picked for her
arranged in a Casper the Friendly Ghost jelly glass. She
places them on the table and sits.
Sure you want to keep those in the
I'm so sorry about that. It was
rude. I think I just got nervous
for some reason.
I thought it was funny.
She likes that.
Where are you staying while you're
A little place with cabins. The
something-Motor Inn. I haven't
checked in yet.
And how long are you here for?
As long as it takes, I might stay a
week. No more I don't think. Where's
My husband took the kids to the
Illinos State Fair. My daughter's
entering a prize steer.
Oh. How old?
About a year and a half.
No, your kids.
Oh. Michael's 17 and Carolyn's 16.
Must be nice having kids.
Francesca looks at him and FANTASIZES SAYING:
Not any more. It's awful. They're
awful. I can't stand them.
END OF FANTASY:
But in reality, Francesca chooses instead to say:
They're not kids anymore. Things
Everything does. One of the laws of
nature. People are always so afraid
of change. But if you look at it like
it's something you can count on
happening, it's actually a comfort.
Not many things you can count on for
I guess. Except I'm one of the people
I doubt that.
Italy to Iowa? I'd call that a change.
Richard was in the army. I met him
while I was living in Naples. I
didn't know where Iowa was. I only
cared that it was America. And of
course, being with Richard.
What's he like?
As Francesca thinks of an answer, she looks over to the
entranceway between the kitchen and the front hall and sees:
Richard standing there in his underwear, reaching over his shoulder.
Franny, could you clean out my boil
END OF FANTASY:
Francesca answers Robert, half of her still in fantasy --
He's very... clean.
No. I mean yes, he's clean but he's
also other things. He's a very hard
worker. Very honest. Very caring.
Gentle. Good father.
Yes. Very clean.
They drink. Francesca thinks she sounds like an idiot.
So you must like Oiwa, I guess.
Francesca looks at him. She wants to tell the truth, but
It's... uh... uh...
She stops. Robert smiles.
Go ahead. I won't tell anyone.
Surprised, Francesca looks at him oddly -- as if he already
knows and is giving her permission.
I hate it!
She covers her mouth, like a reflex -- worried someone heard.
Robert just smiles and nods.
Francesca is so taken by his understanding and acceptance,
she lets the flood gates open, speaking faster than her mind
can keep up --
(without a pause)
I hate it! I hate it! I HATE IT! I
hate the corn and the dust and the
town and the cows and that SMELL that
you love! I hate the people.
Everybody knows everybody's business,
I mean it's nice now and then,
they're always there to help out, but
that's just it, it's like they're
waiting for something awful to happen
to help out and when nothing awful is
happening, then they just sit around
and talk about what is happening
which is none of their business. I
want to kill them sometimes for how
cruel they can be --
Camera begins slowly moving out to a wider angle...
-- everybody's talking about poor Mrs.
Delaney whose husband is having an
affair with that Redfield woman and
"isn't it a shame," and "isn't it
awful," and the truth is THEY'RE
LOVING IT! Poor woman can't even be
cheated on without the grocery man
knowing about it -- no one respects
anyone's privacy. You're not even
safe in your own home! They think
they can just walk right into your
house because they BAKED you
something. It's like they have a
secret password and YOU CAN'T KEEP
THEM OUT! I live in fear of that door
opening and having a peach cobbler
shoved at me...
(CONTINUES MOS IF
Throughout this rapid fire monologue, camera has moved to a
wide angle as Robert just sits and listens, letting her get
it all off her chest. She continues as we:
INT. LIVING ROOM
Francesca is lying on the couch as Robert places a cold cloth
on her head. Her "confession" took a lot out offer.
Is the dizziness gone?
I think so.
She sits up. She feels exposed. But also, relieved.
I better go. You sure you're all
It's been a pleasure. Sincerely.
I feel so embarrassed.
Why? You uncorked a bottle. From what
I can tell, I got here just in time.
Any later and you'd have made the
front page, running down Main Street
naked, smoking Camels out of your
But I... We don't even know each
You have no reason to feel ashamed.
You haven't said anything you don't
have a right to. And if anybody tells
you different -- you just send them to
She smiles. He turns to exit.
Better get my stuff.
Francesca surprises herself. She doesn't want him to go.
Would you like to stay for dinner?
There aren't many choices in town and
... anyway, you'd have to eat alone.
So would I.
That's very nice of you. I don't get
many dinner invitations on the job.
It would be a welcome change. Thanks.
INT. BEDROOM - LATER
Francesca rushes in and starts to disrobe, getting ready to
shower and change for dinner. She glances out the window and
EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE
Robert is at the water pump. His shirt is off and he is
washing himself. (WE INTERCUT THE TWO.)
Francesca finds herself staring, a bit open mouthed. He has
a muscular, firm body. She watches how the water cascades
over his body. How he seems so unashamed, so "in his skin,"
moving with such strength and grace.
Robert pauses and looks out over the open pasture. The cold
water feels good. Since the pump is the back of the house,
hidden from the road, no one can see him. He decides to take
off his pants and cool himself further.
Francesca begins watching this in shock until she has to
literally pull herself away from the window with such a force
that she rams herself into a chest of drawers, knocking over
an array of perfume bottles and a mirror. She deftly catches
a falling bottle and freezes. Taking a breath, she pulls
This is ridiculous. Stupid!
She replaces the bottle and heads for the bathroom quite
composed, then, without warning, makes an immediate 180
degree turn and heads back to the window to sneak a peek.
Seeing him, she gasps.
Oh my God.
Watching him, she is possessed by some very frightening
feelings and runs from the window, into the bathroom, closing
the door behind her.
EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - EARLY EVENING
Francesca is gathering some vegetables for dinner, from her
garden. Robert is at his truck, in his pants, changing into
a fresh shirt.
INT. KITCHEN - LATER
Francesca is cutting up vegetables. Robert enters with some
of his gear.
I'm just going to put some of this
film in your fridge. Heat isn't too
forgiving out there.
He does. On the radio, TONY BENNETT sings "WRAP YOUR TROUBLES
IN DREAMS." Robert approaches Francesca.
Can I help?
Sure. Men cook. We don't all eat
bananas with our feet, ya know.
They stand side by side. Francesca hands him a stack of
carrots and a knife.
Tony Bennett's up-tempo tone plays over a series of images of
Francesca and Robert talk and prepare dinner.
-- Four hands side by side, cutting and chopping.
Occasionally, a hand brushes against another as it reaches
-- Robert's hand gently touching Francesca's waist as he
reaches around her for an onion.
-- Robert lighting Francesca a cigarette.
-- Robert brings in his cooker through the screen door. HE
MAKES SURE IT DOESN'T SLAM. FRANCESCA MAKES A NOTE OF THIS.
-- Robert opens the cooler and removes two cold beers, tossing
one to Francesca.
-- Francesca opening a new tablecloth and spreading it out on
-- Francesca handing Robert plates from the shelf, their
fingers only barely touching.
END OF MONTAGE
INT. KITCHEN - EVENING
Robert and Francesca are in the middle of dinner. But instead
of the usual silence that surrounds Johnson family eating,
Francesca is mesmerized by Robert as he manages to eat and
tell a story. The scene begins with a LAUGH FROM FRANCESCA.
... No, wait, it gets better.
He stands up and acts it out for her.
You have to get the full picture
here. I have three cameras around my
neck, a tripod in one hand and my
pants down around my ankles. I
thought this was a private bush. I
look up and this gorilla, this female
gorilla, is staring at me with what
can best be described as the most
lascivious expression I've ever seen
on a female with so much body hair.
I freeze. 'Cause that's what they tell
you to do. In this position. She comes
towards me and... and she...
(he stops awkwardly)
She starts sniffing me.
Oh my God...
It's still a very sensitive memory
Then what happened?
We got engaged.
She throws a napkin at him.
None of this is true!
No, it is. Except for the engagement
part. She wouldn't have me, although
I still get a Valentine every year.
Francesca is laughing so hard she can't breath. Robert loves
making her laugh.
You ought to write these stories
Nah. I've tried. My writing's too
technical, I think. Problem of being
a journalist too long is you stop
giving yourself permission to invent.
I better just stick to making pictures.
"Making pictures." I like that. You
really love what you do, don't you?
(nods, smiles shyly)
I'm kind of obsessed by it, actually.
Why, do you think?
I don't know if obsessions have
reasons. I think that's why they're
You sound like an artist.
No. I wouldn't say that. National
Geographic isn't exactly the hub of
artistic inspiration. They like their
wild life in focus and without any
personal comment. I don't mind
really. I'm not artist. I'd faced that
a long time ago. It's the course of
being well-adjusted. I'm too normal.
I don't think you're normal.
He looks at her in surprise. She catches herself again.
I didn't mean that the way it sounded.
Well, let's just call it a compliment
and move on.
Did you love teaching?
Sometimes. When there was a particular
student who made a difference. I know
they're all supposed to, but it's not
true. You tend to single out one or
two you think you can contribute
And did you?
I'd like to think so. I know one of
them went on to Medical school.
Why did you stop?
My children. And Richard didn't like
Do you miss it?
I don't know. I've never thought
about it... what was the most
exciting place you've ever been to?
Unless you're tired of talking about
You're asking a man if he's too tired
to talk about himself? You don't get
out much, do you?
Francesca smiles, a little embarrassed.
I'm sorry. That was...
No. It's all right. I just meant, it
might be a little dull for you,
telling all this to some housewife
in the middle of nowhere.
This is your home. It's not nowhere.
And it's not dull.
Francesca smiles again, this time relieved.
Let's see -- my favorite place...
Francesca settles in to listen, never taking her eyes off of him.
Well, it's the obvious choice, but I
think I'd have to say Africa. It's
another world. Not just the people
and the cultures but the land, the
colors you see at dawns and dusks --
and the life there. It charges every
molecule of air.
Francesca is fascinated, being drawn into his imagery.
It's tangible -- the moment to moment
of life and death, the co-habitation
of man and beast, of beast and beast,
who'll survive, who won't -- and
there's no judgement about it. No
right or wrong or imposed morality.
It's just life. It's a voyeurs
paradise really because those animals
don't want anybody in their business.
You can watch but at a distance.
I remember one time I was on a truck
headed for the Niger.
Lights begin to dim as Francesca is so taken in by his story,
she begins to actually see what he is describing.
We were driving north. The truck was
old so I guess the sound of the motor
muffled this kind of rumbling in the
distance -- until finally, it was upon
us like, like a hundred thunder claps
all at once...
CU on FRANCESCA as WE BLEND THE SOUNDS OF AFRICA and --
EXT. AFRICA - DAY
Robert and a driver are in a truck driving north. Robert
turns to look out the window and sees:
A HERD OF GIRAFFES AND GAZELLES AND WATERBUCKS AND ZEBRA are
running in the grasslands to the right of the truck. Robert
excitedly instructs the driver:
Get us closer!!
The driver veers off towards the stampede as Robert opens his
door and makes his way to the flatbed part of the truck with
his camera. The truck takes its position within this
breathtaking force of wildlife, as giraffes, zebras and
gazelles surround it -- all going in the same direction.
Robert stands in the truck, shooting as fast as he can. The
truck races to keep up with the animals. Robert is so pumped
he can hardly catch his breath. Suddenly, the force and
beauty of these creatures causes him to lower his camera. He
is unable to film it because it overwhelms him. He just
stands there in awe and lets out a primal scream. The animals
gradually veer off to where the truck can no longer follow.
Robert watches them disappear into the distance.
CUT BACK TO:
INT. JOHNSON KITCHEN - NIGHT
Francesca has seen all of this in her mind. Robert smiles at
her, sensing how in tune with the story she was.
My God. How I'd love to see that.
They have safaris for tourists now.
Maybe you can convince your husband.
Francesca smiles. There is an awkward pause between them.
It's a beautiful night. Would you
like to go for a walk?
Well, it's kind of buggy out there.
Have no fear. This Shoshone Medicine
Woman taught me how to make bug
repellent tea out of tree root.
You drink bug repellent?
No, you rub it on you. I have some in
the truck. Don't go away.
She shakes her head. He runs out the screen door, not letting
it slam. Francesca looks like a teenager with first date
EXT. PASTURE - NIGHT
Francesca and Robert walk through the pasture. She sniffs her
Smells like dirt.
You get used to it.
You want to go back in?
No. I'm all right. It's working.
Silence. They walk. It is a beautiful night.
You've got it all right here, you
know. It's just as beautiful as any
other place I've seen. God, it
knocks me out.
(indicating the night)
This "... Of what I call God and
fools can Nature." Who wrote that?
Umm, I don't know. I can look it up.
I'd appreciate it. I like knowing who
I'm stealing from. If you can't
create art I think the least you can
do is recognize it around you, don't
you think? There is...
... so much beauty.
She watches him with great appreciation. He smiles at her.
Instead of looking away, their eyes remained locked for a
moment. There is clearly an attraction. They simultaneously
look away and continue walking.
Francesca's heart is beating a mile a minute yet she can't
deny she is enjoying herself. Walking side by side in
silence, Francesca turns back occasionally to look at her
house as they get further away from it. Suddenly, the more
distant the house becomes, the more frightened she starts to
feel. Something inside her knows she's going too far with
this man -- too far from home. Although a part of her wants
it, she is surprised to find a larger part of her finds
too unknown. She stops.
Francesca looks confused for a moment, not knowing what she
wants. She can't move. She searches for a way out.
Would you like some coffee? Or maybe,
Somehow Robert can sense her uneasiness. He obliges.
How about both?
INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT
Francesca moves about the kitchen preparing coffee -- dropping
the coffee pot basket, spilling the grounds. She acts tense.
Robert sits at the table opening the brandy bottle Francesca
almost opened the night before, aware of her mood.
Francesca gets the coffee going then sets the table with cups
You sure you won't let me help you
with those dishes?
No. I'll do them later.
Are you all right?
We're not doing anything wrong, do
Francesca freezes. He has read her mind again.
Nothing you can't tell your children
Once again, he relieves her of fear and anxiety. He hands her
a glass of brandy...
INT. KITCHEN - DAY
Carolyn and Michael have come to the end of a notebook.
He's getting her drunk. That's what
happened. Jesus, maybe he forced
himself. That's why she couldn't tell
Oh, he did not. He's such a nice guy.
Nice? He's trying to sleep with
I don't think so. Not yet anyway. And
besides, something like that doesn't
make you a bad person. He reminds me
of Steve in a way. Steve's weak,
immoral and a liar but he's still a
real nice guy. He just shouldn't be
At least not to me. You getting
hungry? I'm hungry.
Michael nods, then speaks with sincere compassion.
I had no idea it's gotten that bad,
Oh, don't feel sorry for me. Please.
No one's forcing me to stay.
Then why do you?
And do what? Live alone? Go back to
school? Find someone else? Start a
magazine for confused woman? ... What
if I can't do any of those things?
Michael can't answer her. Carolyn looks through the cabinets.
There's not much here to make.
Let's go into town and get a bite.
We'll take the books with us.
Carolyn nods. Michael looks for the next notebook, checking
INT. CAR - EARLY EVENING
Michael drives as Carolyn opens the next notebook and reads:
"We sat sipping brandy. I thought if
anybody walked through the door now
there'd be no explaining it. But I
didn't care. And I loved that I
didn't care. I almost wanted it to
happen. Then there'd be no turning
back. I wanted to be like him. I
lived this life of his. We talked
about his wife and I was jealous --
not of her -- but of his leaving. His
fearlessness. He knew what he wanted.
How did he do that.
CUT BACK TO:
INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
Francesca sips her brandy. Robert sits in the easy chair.
Do you mind if I... ask you why you
Not at all. I wasn't around much...
So why did I get married? Well, I
thought it was a good idea at the
time. Have a home base. Roots. You
can get lost moving around so much.
So what happened?
I never got lost. For some reason,
I'm more at home everywhere than at
one place. So I decided I'll think of
myself as some kind of world citizen.
I belong everywhere and nowhere. I'm
kin to everyone, and no one in
particular. See, once you get into
the habit of not needing anyone, it's
kind of hard to break.
You must get lonely at times.
Never touch the stuff. I've got
friends all over the world. Good
friends I can see when I want, if I
Woman friends, too?
I'm a loner, I'm not a monk.
Francesca averts her eyes, before continuing her investigation.
You really don't need anyone?
No, I think I need everyone! I love
people. I want to meet them all!
I just think there are too many out
there saying "This is mine." or
"She's mine." Too many lines have
been drawn. World's breaking apart
because of man's weakness for some
testosterone conquests over territory
and power and people. He wants
control over what deep down he knows
he has no control over whatsoever and
it scares him silly.
Why doesn't it scare you?
I embrace Mystery. I don't know
what's coming. And I don't mind.
Do you ever regret it? The divorce,
Do you ever regret not having a
Not everybody's supposed to have a
But -- how can you just live for what
you want? What about other people?
I told you, I love other people.
But no one in particular.
No. But I love them just the same.
But it's not the same.
That's not what you're saying. I know
it's not the same. What you're saying
is, it's not as good. Or it's not as
normal or proper.
No, I'm just saying --
I'm a little sick of this American
Family Ethic everyone seems to be
hypnotized by in this country. I
guess you think I'm just some poor
displaced soul doomed to roam the
earth without a self-cleaning oven
and home movie.
Just because someone chooses to
settle down and have a family doesn't
necessarily mean they're hypnotized.
Just because I've never seen a
gazelle stampede doesn't mean I'm
asleep in the world.
Do you want to leave your husband?
Francesca is completely stunned and thrown off guard.
No. Of course not.
Beat. Awkward silence. Suddenly there is tension between them.
My mistake. I apologize.
What made you ask such a question?
I thought that's what we were
doing -- asking questions.
I thought we were just having a
conversation. You seem to be reading
all this meaning into it. Meanings I
must be too simple to, uh...
interpret or something.
I already apologized.
Silence. Robert remains seated. Francesca remains at the sink.
It's getting late.
Thank you for dinner.
Pause. Francesca feels badly.
Listen, I'm sorry I --
No, no. Forgive me. I made a mistake.
It was an inappropriate thing to ask.
(shrugs it off, then:)
... I feel like something's been
Robert smiles and crosses to her. He takes her hand into both
It's been a perfect evening. Just the
way it is. Thank you.
Francesca smiles. The possibility of a kiss hangs in the air
between them until Robert turns to get his film out of the
fridge. As he exits through the screen door, he stops.
One thing though -- don't kid yourself,
Francesca. You're anything but a
He smiles and exits, catching the screen door before it
Francesca doesn't move for a moment, then crosses to the door
as if to run after him when she is stopped by the PHONE
RINGING. She picks up.
RICHARD (on phone)
RICHARD (on phone)
How are you?
Fine. Everyone settled in okay?
RICHARD (on phone)
Just fine. We're all in one room.
Michael's on the couch and
She hears Robert's truck door open and close. She hears the
motor being turned on. She half-listens to Richard.
Uh-uh... good... Hmmm...
She hears the truck driving away as Richard continues:
RICHARD (on phone)
We got our position in the Fair. Not
bad although I would have liked to be
third which is not too early and not
too late. But I told Carolyn not to
(continues, if needed)
INT. FRANCESCA BEDROOM - NIGHT
Francesca exits her bathroom, in her bathrobe, shutting the
light. She is brushing her hair and thinking of Robert. She
sits on the edge of the bed. She sees her reflection in a
mirror on the closet door.
She stands and takes her robe off. She steps forward to look
at her body -- running her hands gently around her curves, her
neck, down the side of her thighs, her face, her breasts.
She shuts off the lights and gets into bed under the covers.
She closes her eyes and tentatively begins to explore her
body. It is awkward for her but we can see her trying to let
herself go. Until she opens her eyes in frustration. It's no
good. She can't do it. She feels ashamed. The shame turns
INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
Francesca sits at a writing table with two large books opened
before her containing literary quotations. She searches for
the line Robert mentioned in the pasture.
A note sits before her as well. On it reads: "Robert. Again,
I'm sorry for last night. Would you like supper again tonight
after you're finished. I'd like it very much if I were one of
those good friends you have in the world. Anytime is fine --
Francesca... P.S. By the way, "Of what I call God and Fools
call Nature" was..." She writes the name BROWNING.
EXT. ROSEMAN BRIDGE - NIGHT
Francesca is tacking a note for Robert to the bridge. She
considers taking it down a moment later, but decides not to.
She gets back into her truck and drives away.
WIDE ANGLE OF BRIDGES - DAWN
The view of the bridge goes in and out of focus until we
realize we are seeing it through Robert's camera lens.
Once the focus it sets, Robert notices something is tacked
onto the bridge. He crosses to it hurriedly -- time for the
perfect shot is running out -- pulls it down, thumbtack and
all, and shoves it into his pocket, unread. He returns to
his camera to take his shots.
INT. JOHNSON BEDROOM - MORNING
Francesca is making her bed when she hears a truck driving
down the road. She looks out the window to see:
Robert's truck. However, it passes right by her house.
Francesca's spirit sinks. She feels silly, ashamed and
rejected. She sits on the bed.
Inside the truck, Robert drives by the house and chuckles to
himself at the foolishness of some boring, frustrated
housewife. Francesca's note has been crumbled and stuffed
into a dirty ashtray.
END OF FANTASY:
Francesca enters her bathroom, slamming the door behind her.
INT. KITCHEN - LATER THAT MORNING
Francesca sits at the kitchen table in her bathrobe with a
cup of coffee -- a comic portrait of shame and self-pity. Her
hair is a mess, she hasn't showered or dressed and she stares
into space while listening to the bluesy Chicago radio
The sink is full of dirty dishes she refuses to clean. Beside
it is an ashtray of butts from the night before. She carries
it over to the table and begins fingering for a butt to
smoke in desperation. She lights up and stares into space.
Robert is in Africa talking to TWO ZULU TRIBE MEMBERS. THE
DIALOGUE IS SUBTITLED IN SWAHILI:
... and then she tacks this note on
the bridge asking me to have dinner
with her again!
One Zulu turns to the tower and remarks.
END OF FANTASY:
Francesca put out her cigarette and suddenly gets an idea.
She goes to the phone, reads a number off of a slip of paper
FRANCESCA (on phone)
Hello? Is Richard Johnson staying
there?... No, I don't want to leave
a message. Maybe you can help me --
I'm his wife and I live in Winterset
Iowa -- I wanted to surprise them by
driving up tonight. What would be the
fastest route, the Interstate?... Huh-
huh... Hold it, let me get a pen.
EXT. PAY PHONE, GAS STATION - LATE MORNING
Francesca's note is opened in Robert's hand. Her phone number
is written after the "P.S." He stands in the pay phone
getting a busy signal from Francesca's line. He hangs up.
INT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY
Francesca, dressed and packed, prepares to leave. She checks
her purse to make sure she's got everything. She grabs her
bag and exits.
A few beats later, the phone rings. But she doesn't return.
It rings again. We hear Francesca's truck door open and
close. It rings again. We think Francesca is on her way,
We suddenly hear her burst into the house and see her leap
for the phone.
INT. SLOW BEND SALOON/RESTAURANT - DAY
Robert is at another pay phone.
(out of breath)
Am I interrupting anything?
No. I was just... No.
I'm sorry I didn't call sooner, but I
just read your note. I stuffed it
into my pocket. The light was fading
and I had to get my shot.
The light was fading. Huh-huh.
I would love to come for dinner.
Listen, I have to shoot Cedar Bridge
until a little after sunset. I want
a few night shots. Would you like to
come with me? If you're interested...
Oh, sure. Great.
I'll pick you up.
No. I'll drive myself. I have a few
errands. I'll meet you there.
Okay. See you later.
Yeah. See you later.
Francesca is thrilled. Her mind races with a list of things
she must do before tonight. She opens a cabinet, removes a
coffee can and empties it of her house money. She quickly
counts it, then shoves it into her purse.
EXT. ON THE ROAD - DAY
Francesca drives past a sign marking Des Moines as the next
INT. SLOW BEND SALOON/ RESTAURANT - DAY
The second of two eating establishments in Winterset. A
lunch time crowd fills the place. Robert is seated at the
counter. He can sense their eyes on him, wondering who this
stranger is and what's he doing here. He knows the whispered
conversation is about him.
A MIDDLE-AGED COUPLE talk at table.
Thelma told me he checked into the
Motor Inn and the bill goes to
National Geographic Magazine.
National Geographic? What the hell's
he doing here? We ain't got no naked
pygmies to take pictures of.
He's taking pictures of the bridges.
Ain't no pygmies there either.
Robert wants to finish his lunch as quickly as possible. At
that moment, someone enters the restaurant and all the
conversation stops. He overhears one waitress turn to the
other and whisper --
God. It's Lucy Redfield.
Both the Waitress and Robert (though more subtly) turn to see:
THE REDFIELD WOMAN. But instead of being the harlot we might
think, she's actually a rather plain, demure looking woman --
not nearly as fancy or pretty as Mrs. Delaney herself.
As she crosses the counter, Robert immediately picks up on
the vibes in the room. He notices all the patrons stare then
turns away to whisper. The waitress behind the counter ignores
her. A customer eating at the counter places a bag on an
empty stool beside her, so the Redfield woman can't sit down
Robert and the Redfield woman's eyes meet. She is clearly
uncomfortable. She turns, about to leave, when Robert clears
his cameras off of a stool next to him and offers:
Got room right here if you like.
She is surprised at his courtesy. Others are astounded. Some
disgusted. She accepts his offer and sits beside him.
Hot out there today.
She nods and smiles. The waitress tosses a menu at her and
slams down a glass of water, then moves on down the counter.
The Redfield woman tries to act casual, glancing through the
menu. Robert subtly scans the room as all eyes are on them,
then turn away.
Robert returns his glace back to the Redfield woman who is
now only pretending to read the menu. She is so embarrassed.
She wants to leave but can't move.
Well, are you ordering anything!?
Her harsh tone startles the Redfield woman as well as Robert.
Gathering her dignity, she responds.
No. Thank you. I've changed my mind.
She politely nods to Robert, gathers her things and exits.
Robert looks to the waitress, as a SECOND WAITRESS enters.
I'd've thrown that water right in her
Poor Mrs. Delaney.
The waitress walks O.S. leaving the second waitress facing
Robert, who looks at her curiously. The second waitress looks
back as if to say, "What business is it of yours?" and exits.
EXT. DES MOINES - DAY
A metropolis compared to Winterset.
Francesca exits a liquor store with a bottle of wine in a
paper bag. She also carries a bag of groceries as she heads
down the street to her parked truck. She passes a DRESS SHOP
CUT BACK TO:
EXT. WINTERSET - DAY
Robert enters a general store. He buys a six pack of beer
for his cooler and approaches the counter for the Cashier.
Robert nods. He decides to have some fun and test the waters a
Isn't it awful about poor Mrs.
With this, the damn bursts -
Tragic is more like it. The pain that
woman has been subjected to by that
no-good husband. I never liked him.
Known him for years. People say he's
quiet. Well, it's the quiet ones that
can sneak up behind you and stab you
in the back. I heard yesterday, that
she confronted him. Gave him the
ultimatum and you know what he did?--
(CONTINUES AS NEEDED)
Robert stands astounded, listening to this diatribe of gossip.
CUT BACK TO:
INT. DES MOINES DRESS SHOP - DAY
Francesca sits in her slip, alone in a dressing room, with
several dresses strewn about. The panic of indecision has set
in. She looks at herself in the mirror and begins to doubt
that seeing Robert is a good idea. Or perhaps she's imagining
something that isn't there. And what about Richard?
A few years back. Francesca is dressed up for some formal
affairs. She heads down the stairs. Richard is waiting in the
hall, in a suit and tie. He looks at her admiringly.
Ready. You have the keys?
But Richard doesn't answer. He's just staring at her.
Francesca stops. Richard looks at her like a little boy.
What's the matter?
Richard is obviously impressed by how she looks, but he can't
say anything. He just smiles shyly and shakes his head to say
nothing is wrong and opens the door for her.
END OF MEMORY:
Francesca feels guilty when a SALESWOMAN enters with a pretty
How about this one?
Francesca examines it. She likes it. But the guilt...
I don't know. I haven't bought a
dress for myself in so long.
I mean, I'm just buying a dress. It's
not a special occasion or anything.
I'm just shopping. Just shopping for
a new dress, that's all.
That might work. And if he's still
mad, just tell him you could have
done better but you married him out
of pity. That's always works for me.
INT. JOHNSON HOUSE - LATE AFTERNOON
Francesca enters with her new dress, groceries and wine as
the PHONE RINGS. She puts everything down to answer.
Intercut ROBERT at a pay phone.
Oh, hi. Look, I'm running a little
late, but I'll still...
Listen, don't take this the wrong way
but, I'm wondering if this is such a
Francesca's heart sinks.
I uh... I had lunch in town today.
Happened to cross paths with "that
Redfield woman." I apologize. I
thought you were half-joking about
Oh. I guess you got the whole story.
The cashier at the general store was
I think he's running for town crier
I now know more about their affair
than I remember about my marriage.
Francesca, the last thing I want to
do is put you in any kind of
situation that would... even though
we know it's just -- I mean, it's
nothing like that, but if anybody saw
That's very kind of you.
Silence. Both want to meet. Both experience the idea of not
seeing each other even again in this brief moment. Someone
has to say something to save it -- but who will it be?
I want you to come.
Robert is relieved.
I'll meet you at the bridge just like
we planned all right. Don't worry about
the rest of it... I'm not.
All right. See you there.
Francesca smiles and hangs up. In that moment, Francesca
realizes consciously what she is doing and what she wants.
EXT. CEDAR BRIDGE - DUSK
Robert is already there, working. He checks his watch,
anxious for Francesca to arrive, when he hears a truck
driving up. He looks to see Francesca stop and get out. By
their expressions we can tell how glad they are to see each
Sorry I'm late. Richard called.
Oh, how is he?
Fine. They're all having a good time.
How many more shots do you have?
Couple. Want to help?
She nods. He extends his hand. She pauses, then takes it. He
leads her to the bridge. Walking away from camera, they say:
I should stop off at the motel to
clean up before dinner.
Well, I have plumbing at my house.
INT. JOHNSON BEDROOM - EARLY MORNING
Francesca enters. Robert is in the bathroom, in the shower,
with the bathroom door slightly ajar. His clothes are laid on
the bed with his bag beside them. A fresh shirt is folded.
Francesca takes his dirty shirt and decides to clean it. As
she exits, her eye can't help roaming toward the bathroom
door. For a moment, she pauses to listen to the sound of the
water as it hits his body.
INT. KITCHEN - LATER
Francesca is busy preparing dinner. Robert enters, cleaned
Can I help?
Actually, no. I've got everything
under control. I'd like to clean up
myself a bit. I'm going to take a
bath. Dinner'll be ready in about a
How about if I set the table?
Would you like a beer for your bath?
Yes, that'd be nice.
Robert gets her one.
INT. BATHROOM - LATER
Francesca lounges in a tub with a beer poured into a wine
glass. She finds it very elegant. She takes a deep breath,
thinking "What's going to happen tonight?"
INT. KITCHEN - LATER
Robert is at the radio when Francesca enters in her new
dress. She looks beautiful. And it's all over Robert's face.
Unlike her husband, Robert has an answer.
Absolutely nothing. You're just sort
of a knockout in that dress.
She smiles and crosses to the stove.
Table looks beautiful.
He can't take his eyes off of her. On the radio we hear DIHAH
WASHINGTON begin to sing "IF IT'S THE LAST THING I DO" -- a
beautiful, blusey lovesong. Francesca pulls out a pan of hot
rolls as THE PHONE RINGS. Francesca moves toward it with a
roll, which she tosses to Robert. He burns his fingers and he
smiles at her joke. The song plays throughout.
Hello? Hi, Madge?
Francesca and Robert do not take their eyes off of each other
throughout the call. Robert takes a bit of the roll.
Huh-huh. Nothing, just making
myself some dinner... No what?...
Oh... I heard about him. Yeah, I hear
he's some kind of photographer.
No, I didn't... Huh-huh... Hippie?
I don't know, is that what hippies
Robert steps closer to her, purposely reaching across her
body for a napkin.
Oh he is, huh? Well, don't tell Floyd,
he'll be out with a shotgun...
She notices a crumb on Robert's mouth and wipes it off.
Robert takes her hand and holds it, lowering it to his side.
Well, listen, I have a pot boiling.
I've got to go... No, they don't get
home until Friday morning... Well,
maybe I'll give you a call. Okay. Bye.
She hangs up. The two are now almost face to face. Robert
raises her hand up and slips his free one around her waist.
They begin to dance to the song. The kitchen lights have not
been turned on since the sun went down. The sky, a dark
orange and magenta, illuminates the room through the window.
They never take their eyes off of each other. Suddenly,
You're shaking. Are you cold?
Francesca shakes her head. They dance a bit more, but
Francesca is shaking which makes it difficult. They both
stop. Robert places his huge hands on either side of her
face, gently stroking her hair away from her cheek. He
If you want me to stop, tell me how.
He brushes his cheek and face softly against hers. Francesca
rubs hers against him. She can barely breathe.
Francesca, I won't be sorry. I won't
apologize for this.
Nobody's asking you to.
They kiss. Hands gently explore. Their bodies touch. Their
lips never spend more than seconds away from each other.
Robert gently slide his hands down her breasts and torso,
exploring every inch of her. Francesca grips his massive
back, sliding up to his neck and hair. Robert lifts her leg
and presses it against his hip, kissing her neck and
shoulders. Francesca starts to lose herself, clutching his
head at her breast then pulling him up to her mouth once
INT. SLOW BEND CAFE - PRESENT DAY - EVENING
The same saloon/restaurant of twenty-five years ago has been
turned into a modern cafe yet the original charm is still
Carolyn and Michael sit in a booth, with half-eaten dinners
before them. Carolyn has been reading the book to Michael
when she looks across from her to find -- Michael looking like
a little boy who is fighting not to cry.
What's the matter?
Michael shakes his head. He can't or won't explain. He's too
upset. His eyes tear up. Carolyn feels badly for him.
I'm going to get some air.
He exits. Carolyn smiles sympathetically. Somehow this last
passage of their mothers doesn't affect her in the same way.
She returns to the book but first asks a passing waitress,
with great urgency.
Can I smoke here?
The waitress nods. Carolyn needs a cigarette for the rest of
this. She opens her bag to get her pack. Inside her bag she
notices a BUSINESS CARD. She picks it up to read IRA NEWMAN,
attorney. Divorce. Pre-Nuptials. Marital Litigation. She
pauses for a moment. Then, tossing the card back inside, she
lights her cigarette and takes a drag. We follow the curls of
smoke up as we:
INT. JOHNSON LIVING ROOM
Camera moves down curls of smoke, to reveal:
Robert and Francesca in each others arms, under a blanket on
the living room floor on a bed of couch pillows, smoking a
cigarette after lovemaking. Francesca seems miles away --
feelings of regret and guilt creeping in.
Are you comfortable?
Do you... want to move to the
No. I can't. Not yet.
She can't bring herself to go into her husband bed.
You want to eat something?
Are you hungry?
Silence. Robert shifts his body to face her.
Honey. Are you all right?
She looks at him and starts to cry, shaking her head. The room
is filled with memories of her family. She nestles in his arms.
He folds her. She closes her eyes.
Take me somewhere.
Right now. Tell me someplace you've
been -- someplace on the other side
of the world. Anywhere but here.
How about Italy?
How about Bari?
Yes. Tell me about the day you got
off the train.
Have you ever been to that station?
You know that little place nearby
with the striped awning that sells
sandwiches and little pizzas...
The two transport themselves together to another place, where
there is no familiar memories surrounding them to interfere.
EXT. JOHNSON PORCH - NIGHT
The two sit in bathrobes on the porch looking out over the
pasture. They have plates of dinner on their laps. They eat
Do you have anymore of the stew?
Chewing, Francesca nods and leans over, picks a pot off the
porch and ladles some more onto his plate. Too much falls out
and it spills onto the robe.
Oh, I'm sorry.
It's okay. It's not that hot anymore.
Francesca hands him a dish rag. Robert wipes off the food
revealing his bare leg. She reaches over and touches it. He
looks at her and smiles. She leans over and kisses him
passionately until, suddenly, she pulls away. She looks
upset. She rises and moves away to look out to the pasture.
Robert can sense what is wrong.
You think too much, you know that?
I just feel like I'm getting a little
... out of control that's all. It's
kind of frightening.
Why!? Because, I'm having thoughts I
hardly know what to do with. I...
can't seem to... stop them.
Nobody's asking you to.
And arraccinos and zeppolis. Yes! I
I sat outside and had coffee.
Where? Near the doorway or the near the
front of the church?
Near the church.
(closes her eyes)
I sat there once. It was hot. Like
today. I'd been shopping. I had all
these bags around my feet I kept
having to move every time the waiter
EXT. SANDWICH CAFE - BARI - DAY
Francesca sits at the outdoor cafe in Bari with shopping bags
around her feet. She re-arranges them as the waiter passes
by, mumbling something vulgar under his breath. When she
looks up -- Robert is standing there. She smiles. He offers
her hand. She takes it and rises. They leave the cafe.
Francesca and Robert together against the breathtaking
backdrop of the Italian countryside.
EXT. BARI COUNTRYSIDE - DAY
On a lakefront, Robert and Francesca make love.
WE INTERCUT WITH:
INT. JOHNSON LIVING ROOM - EVENING
FRANCESCA AND ROBERT MAKING LOVE ONCE AGAIN.
Francesca looks at him and understands he is giving her full
permission to explore whatever she wants. Hesitantly, she
crosses to him and takes his plate away. She stands before
him, leaning him back into his chair. She slowly,
tentatively, opens her robe. She strokes his hair, then
caresses his head and gently guides it between her legs.
INT. SLOW BEND RESTAURANT - NIGHT
C.U. on an ashtray filled with cigarette butts as Carolyn
anxiously lights another. These last entries have over
stimulated her. She calls to the waitress abruptly.
Can I get another cup of coffee,
When she looks up, she sees Michael has returned. He sits.
Where did you go?
Bar across the street.
Have you called Betty?
(she shakes his head)
Maybe you should.
I found out who Lucy Delaney is.
(she looks interested)
Remember the Delaneys from Hillcrest
Yeah. But I thought she died.
He remarried. Apparently they were
having an affair for years.
Apparently the first Mrs. Delaney was
a bit of a stiff.
You mean -- she didn't like sex?
(nods, then simply:)
I bet mom could've helped her.
Boy. All these years I've resented
not living the wild life in some
place like Paris and all the time I
could've moved back to Iowa... Are
Not yet. You want to go?
I think I better. Between the book
and the coffee, I'm this close to
raping the busboy.
EXT. IOWA LAKEFRONT - NIGHT
Michael and Carolyn have parked in a secluded area near a
lake. Some place where the moonlight and the scenery create
a beautiful backdrop. They sit on the ground, leaving the
headlights and the radio on. They are getting drunk sharing
a bottle of whiskey.
I used to love this place. I used to
take Kathy Reynolds down here.
You never dated Kathy Reynolds!
Not officially. Her and Steve Kendall
were pinned at birth. But I was crazy
about her. And for about three months,
I managed to catch her during her
I never knew that.
Was this during Betty?
Everything was during Betty. God we
were so young. Why did we think we
had to do it all so fast? I've never
cheated on Betty. Not once we were
married, I mean.
Did we want to?
Only about a thousand times. What do
I do now? "What's good enough for mom
is good enough for me?"
What gets me is I'm 46 years old.
I've been in this crummy fucking
-- for over twenty years because
that's what I was taught -- you stick
with it! Normal people don't get
divorced. I can't remember the last
time my husband made love to me so
intensely that he transported me to
Europe, for Christ's sake -- quite
frankly, I don't think he ever did!
And now I find out in between bake
sales, my mother was Anais Nin!
What about me! I feel really weird.
Like she cheated on me, not dad.
Isn't that sick? I don't mean I
wanted to sleep with her or anything
but -- ya know -- being the only son.
You're sort of made to feel like
you're the prince of the kingdom, ya
know? And in the back of your mind,
you kind of think your mother doesn't
need sex anymore because she has you.
You're right -- that is sick.
If she was so unhappy, why didn't she
They look to each other without an answer. Then simultaneously
they reach for the notebooks.
Can I read it now? I think I'm ready.
Carolyn offers him the book then lays back in a relaxed
position in order to listen. Michael flips to an ear marked
What paragraph were you up to?
She just made him perform oral sex on
Michael freezes. He loses his nerve. Carolyn helps.
Go ahead, Michael. You've got to do
this. Just think, "Today I am a man."
Michael nods and takes another swig. He reads:
"I'd never had a man make love to me
that way before."
"I couldn't believe the feelings
bursting inside of me. As if I had
opened some forbidden Pandora's box."
Camera begins to move to wide angle as Francesca takes over.
"It seems, thinking about it now,
that in those few days I lived a
completely different life as a
completely different woman. What was
recognizable as me before Robert was
gone. We decided to spend Wednesday
away from Winterset. Away from
Madison County. Away from pastures
and bridges and people too familiar
and reminders too painful. We let the
day take us where it wanted..."
INT. DES MOINES MOVIE THEATER - DAY
VIVIEN LEIGH is walking down a ships stairs in the 1965 film
"SHIP OF FOOLS." She is alone on screen. She walks, slightly
intoxicated. Suddenly, Charleston music plays out of nowhere
and she begins to dance, by herself, without any self-
In the movie theatre, Robert sits with his arm around
Francesca like teenage lovers. Her head is nestled in his
chest as she eats from a bag of popcorn. Robert barely keeps
his eyes on the screen, staring at Francesca and stroking her
EXT. DOWNTOWN DES MOINES STREET - DAY
Francesca and Robert walk hand-in-hand, window shopping and
taking in the sights. For Francesca, it is as if she is
seeing everything for the first time.
INT. BOOK STORE - DAY
Robert introduces Francesca to the photography section,
showing her a book of one of his favorite photographers,
Walker Evans. Francesca admires one photograph in particular
-- a mother and child during the depression.
On that one is beautiful. Look at
their expressions. As if the camera
weren't on them at all. As if they
had no strength left to hide what
they were feeling.
He's a genius. They're not
photographs -- they're stories, entire
histories captured in moments.
I bet you could do a book.
No. I couldn't.
Why do you say that?
Because I already tried once.
Francesca is surprised. She senses his disappointment.
It's no big deal. I know how to work
a camera, how to make it "make
pictures" -- but I don't know how to
make it make art.
At least that's what six publishers
said. To take what we see of this
world and give it back with a bit of
ourselves in it. It's a mystery to me.
But you don't mind.
No, I don't mind.
She brushes his hair away from his face affectionately. As he
looks at another book, she notices their reflection in a
mirror. She puts her arm through his. They look like a couple
to her -- two people who belong together.
INT. FANCY RESTAURANT - DAY
Francesca and Robert have an elegant lunch.
What were you like when you were
I just wondered. Why were you trouble?
I had a temper.
What were your parents like?
Pause. Robert doesn't reply. She looks at him curiously.
I can't do this, honey.
Try and live a lifetime before
Friday. Cram it all in.
(shakes his head)
This is the first time either has mentioned their time clock.
Francesca nods, understandingly.
Across the room, Francesca notices A MOTHER having dessert
with her FIVE-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER, a pretty little girl in a
fancy yellow dress. The mother rises and exits to the ladies
room while the little girl continues eating a large sundae.
Francesca smiles. As the girl licks a spoon of fudge, she
sees Francesca looking at her and smiles back. Robert watches
the silent exchange as he eats. Francesca makes a funny face
at her. The little girl giggles as she spoons more ice-cream.
Unfortunately, she spoons too much and the ice-cream falls on
her pretty dress. She tries to take it off her, but she slips
through her fingers and stains her even more. She looks at
Francesca as if she's about to cry. Francesca smiles.
Excuse me a minute.
Robert watches her cross to the little girl and kneel beside
her. He sees her consoling the little girl while taking a
napkin and dabbing it in the water glass.
She helps the girl carefully wipe away the mess, all the
while calming her. The mother re-enters the scene and shakes
her head at her daughter. The daughter is afraid of being
reproached but the mother is smiling. She and Francesca begin
talking. She thanks Francesca. Robert sees the two mothers
exchanging a moment of common experience and brief
friendship. The mother and daughter take their leave as
Francesca says goodbye and returns to the table. Robert looks
at her lovingly. Francesca returns to her meal, but suddenly
she is no longer hungry. Robert senses something is upsetting
You're somewhere else, where?
Just that it's been a perfect day and
that I'd like to skip my fancy
dessert and go home after this.
You're right, you know. We don't have
Uncomfortable silence hangs between them. A waiter passes by.
OS, as the MOTHER YELLS:
Both Robert and Francesca look to the voice.
EXT. RESTAURANT - DAY
The mother stands on the street frantically calling for her
The Maitre'd, Francesca and Robert exit the restaurant.
Oh my God...!
I was paying the check. She ran
outside. I told her to wait for me
right here! Oh God, where is she?
The sidewalk is filled with people. Francesca looks to
Robert. He recognizes the concern in her expression. Going
home will have to wait.
I'll check down here. Someone call
The Maitre'd goes back inside. Francesca comforts the mother.
Think for a second. Is there
someplace she said she wanted to go?
I don't remember!
Robert searches through the street, poking in and out of
storefronts, looking across the street.
Francesca and the mother search in the opposite direction.
Through the crowd of people, Robert looks across the four
lane Main Street to a LARGE CITY PARK. He crosses to it.
INT. RESTAURANT - AN HOUR LATER
Francesca sits with the mother as TWO POLICEMEN take down a
description. The mother is crying. A waiter brings over some
water for her. The Maitre'd stands by.
She was right outside. I turned my
head for a second.
When was this?
About an hour ago.
They're not going to find her!
Yes, they are.
At that moment, the mother looks up and cries.
She jumps out of her seat as all turn to see:
Robert holding the little girl in his arms, entering the
restaurant. He carefully hands her over to the mother. The
two wrap their arms around each other. Francesca looks to
Robert, loving him even more now.
Where was she?
Across the street. She went into the
park and got turned around and didn't
know her way out.
You crossed the street by yourself?!
It was a green light.
The mother is too relieved to be mad. Robert sits down.
Thank you so much!
I need a drink.
Everyone laughs out of relief. Francesca wraps her arm around
his shoulder and kisses his forehead. He kisses her back.
INT. TRUCK - DUSK
Robert drives as Francesca sits inside his arm. Neither speaks.
INT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DUSK
Francesca calmly leads Robert up to her bedroom.
INT. JOHNSON BEDROOM
Naked, Francesca guides Robert into bed beneath the covers.
They begin to make love -- softly, lovingly -- like a couple
that are beyond the erotic, discovery stage; a couple that
have been together and in love for years.
Francesca puts her arm around him as he nestles his head to
her breast. Francesca strokes his hair as Robert closes his
I don't know why I'm so tired all of
Long day. Go to sleep.
Am I too heavy for you?
Robert settles into her. But Francesca is wide awake.
Something is on her mind -- "Tomorrow? What happens after
INT. KITCHEN - MORNING
Francesca is serving Robert breakfast, then sits down beside
him. Silence. We can sense some tension between them -- this
being their last day together.
Francesca seems ingeniously friendly. Robert is suspicious.
Sleep all right?
Good. More coffee?
(he nods, she pours)
Robert, I hope you don't mind my
asking, but I feel like I should.
Well, these... women friends of
yours... all over the world. How
does it work? Do you see some of them
again? Do you forget others? Do you
write them now and then? How do you
Her facetiousness startles Robert.
I... What do you want?
Well, I just want to know the
procedure. I don't want to upset your
routine. Do you want any jam?
Routine! I don't have a routine. And
if you think that's what this is -
Well, what is this?
Well, why is that up to me? You're
the one who's married. You told me
you have no intention of leaving your
To do what? Be with someone who needs
everyone and no one in particular? I
mean, what would be the point. Would
you pass the butter?
I was honest with you. I told you who
Yes. Absolutely. You have this habit
of not needing and that it's hard to
break. I understand.
Of course, in that case, why sleep --
you don't need rest or for that
matter eat, you don't need food.
She takes his plate away from him, rises and throws it into
What are you doing?
Gee, I don't know. I guess I'm not
cut out to be a World Citizen who
experiences everything and nothing
at the same time.
How do you know what I experience?
I know you! What can this possibly
mean to anyone who doesn't "need"
"Who goes with the Mystery" -- who
pretends he isn't scared to death.
You have no idea what you've done to
me, do you? And after you leave, I'm
going to have to wonder for the rest
of my life what happened here. If
anything happened at all! And I'll
have to wonder if you find yourself
in some... housewife's kitchen in
Romania if you'll sit there and tell
her about your world of good friends
and secretly include me in that group.
What do you want me to say?
I don't want you to say anything. I
don't need you to say anything.
Robert rises, knocking his chair aside.
Fine. More eggs or should we just
fuck on the linoleum one last time?
I told you! I won't apologize for who
No one's asking you to!
I won't be made to feel like I've
done something wrong.
You won't be made to feel! Period.
You've carved out this little part
for yourself in the world where you
get to be a voyeur, a hermit and a
lover whenever you feel like it and
the rest of us are just supposed to
feel so incredibly grateful for the
brief time you've touched our lives!
Well, go to hell! It isn't human not
to feel lonely -- it isn't human not
to afraid! You're a hypocrite and
you're a phony!
I DON'T WANT TO NEED YOU!
BECAUSE I CAN'T HAVE YOU!
WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH IT?
He throws a cup at the wall. It breaks apart. Covering his
face, Robert turns away from her as he holds onto the sink.
Francesca reaches for him but he pulls away, embarrassed.
Don't you see, I've got to know the
truth, Robert. I've got to know the
truth or I'll go crazy. Either way.
Just tell me. But I can't act like
this is enough because it has to be.
I can't pretend I don't feel what I
feel because it's over tomorrow.
Robert, keeping his face from her, tries to tell her:
If I've done anything to make you
think that what's happened between us
is nothing new for me -- is some
routine -- then I do apologize.
What makes it different, Robert?
Robert turns to face her. He is so hopelessly in love he can
hardly find the words. His eyes fill up with tears.
Because... if I even think about
tomorrow -- if I...
even think about leaving here without
you -- I'm not sure I can... that I -
(he shakes his head)
He can't even finish. He kneels down before her wrapping his
arms around her and burying his face into her body. Francesca
starts to cry -- out of happiness, out of pain -- holding onto
him as if for dear life.
Oh God... what are we going to do?
She kisses him -- over and over, not wanting to be even an
inch apart. As if any space between them might separate them
Suddenly, OS, they hear a CAR DRIVE UP to the house. They
panic. Francesca runs to the window to see:
MADGE, a girlfriend, has come for a visit. Madge is holding
a homemade dessert.
No. No. Where's your truck?
Behind the barn. I better go.
Francesca turns to him -- speechless -- not wanting him to go.
Don't worry. I meant upstairs.
He exits. Francesca gathers herself and heads for the front
entrance, quickly cleaning up the plates.
INT. FRONT HALL - DAY
Francesca opens the door to Madge.
Hi. I made some brown betty. I sent
Floyd off to town with the boy. I said -
"Floyd, I'm going to visit my
girlfriend and spend the afternoon
and that's all there is to it. He
said who's going to make lunch? I
said I'm taking a sick day. Eat at
the dinner." Isn't that hilarious?
(MOVES INTO KITCHEN)
He didn't dare raise an eyebrow -- I
don't even want to tell you how late
he was out last night with those good
for nothings from the Sandford ranch.
I am so sorry, honey, I let two days
pass before I came by, but with the
boy home the time just escapes me.
Have you heard from Richard? How's
the fair? God, it's hot.
Following her into the kitchen, Francesca doesn't know which
question to answer first.
EXT. PORCH - LATER THAT DAY
Madge and Francesca sit facing the pasture beside a table
with coffee and brown betty. We parachute into the middle of
... I said to her, "what's the point
of summer school if all he's going to
do are these art projects. The boy
needs so much work in math and his
spelling is a nightmare...
Francesca isn't listening. Her mind wanders.
Madge. Please. Something's happened.
I've met someone. I've fallen in love
in a way I've never thought could
happen my entire life. It's our last
day together. I feel like I'm going to
die when he leaves. Please. Help me.
Oh, honey. I'm so sorry. But you've
got to be grateful for even feeling
the little you've be given. Believe
me. Go to him. Don't let him leave
without these new precious hours
you've got left. And if you need
anyone to cry on, you know where I am.
END OF FANTASY:
Madge shoves a plate at her.
More brown betty?
Francesca takes the plate. She can't think straight.
... Anyway, I'm glad that's over
with. Sara doing so well though.
Everyone thought I was crazy having
them so far apart, but...
Francesca stands behind Madge, as the latter chatters on MOS.
She calmly picks up the brown betty and, from behind, shoves
it into Madge's face and holds it there, trying to suffocate
her with it. Madge struggles.
END OF FANTASY:
Francesca's mind races as Madge continues.
... without one lesson. The
instructor couldn't believe it. So,
who knows -- she may have talent.
How's Carolyn doing? What are her
plans for next year?
Francesca realizes this is her moment. She holds her head and
leans over, unsteadily.
Honey, what's wrong?
I don't know. I woke up a little
dizzy. I didn't sleep well. I think
I need to lay down.
You want me to call the doctor?
No, no. I just didn't sleep well.
I'm not used to sleeping alone. And
this heat. Would you mind?
No, of course not. I'll just clean up.
No, leave it. I'll do it later.
Listen, maybe you and Floyd can come
for dinner on Saturday. I'm sure
Richard'll have so many stories to
tell you both about the fair and all.
Oh, that'll be nice.
INT. BEDROOM - LATER THAT DAY
Francesca enters to find Richard, laying on the bed fully
clothed. She sits beside him. He strokes her arm, then guides
her to lay down. Once she's in his arms, he speaks.
Come with me.
Francesca knew he was going to say this. Either answer she
gives frightens her.
She turns to him and they embrace. Robert, however, fears
only one response. On the soundtrack, we hear the song "DARN
INT. KITCHEN - EVENING
The song continues over the next few images. Camera slowly
pans from the radio, upon which the song is playing, to a
beautifully set table and candles. It arrives on Robert
Camera pans the room from two OPENED SUITCASES, as Francesca
packs to leave. She moves about the room as if with blinders
on -- focused on her task, refusing to take in any sign or
memories that might hinder her. She is wearing a RED DRESS,
with BUTTONS down the front.
Robert stands at the sink rinsing out some utensils. Waiting
for the water to turn hot, he looks out through the window
above the sink. He sees a beautiful view of beautiful night.
He pauses as it strikes him that this is a view Francesca has
seen a million times -- that soon she would not see ever again.
INT. SECOND FLOOR LANDING
Camera follows her as she exits the bedroom with her
suitcases, then walks down the hall to the stairs, then down
the staircase to the front hall.
She quietly sets the suitcases down, hearing the radio and
Robert in the kitchen. She pauses, then enters the living
room. One of the throw pillows has fallen off the couch. She
replaces it then takes a moment to look about the room. She
slowly sits down on the couch.
We hear voices of the past, auditory memories conjured up by
each stick of furniture Francesca sees.
Michael, get off the back of that
chair! What did I tell you!
WE HEAR HIM FALL AND BEGIN TO CRY.
All you all right, honey. Let me see...
A sound of Christmas music... of toddlers running and
laughing... A birthday party for Carolyn...
Mama, look -- look at the dress Aunt
Franny, BONNAZA's on!
Francesca snaps out for it and turns to find Robert.
I've got dinner.
They eat by candlelight. Neither speaks. Neither is very
Would you like a beer?
She smiles and shakes her head. Robert opens a bottle and
takes a sip.
You know what I'd like to do before
we leave? I'd like to take a picture
of you -- at Roseman bridge. Maybe
just as the sun's coming up.
Yes. I'd like that.
Pause. Robert smiles back and takes another sip. Then,
knowing full well what hangs heavy between them, he asks:
Tell me why you're not coming with me?
Francesca stops pretending to eat. She looks at him, having
forgotten how well he can read her.
No matter how I keep turning it
around in my mind -- it doesn't seem
like the right thing.
For anyone. They'll never be able to
live through the talk. Richard will
never be able to. He doesn't deserve
that. He hasn't hurt anyone in his
Then he can move! People move!
His family's lived for almost a
hundred years. Richard doesn't know
how to live anywhere else. And the
The kids are grown! They don't need
you anymore. You told me that. They
hardly talk to you.
No, they don't say much. But
Carolyn's 16. She's just about to
find out about all this for herself
-- she's going to fall in love,
she's going to try and figure out
how to build a life with someone.
If I leave what does that say to her?
What about us? What about me?
You've got to know deep down that the
minute we leave here. It'll all
Yeah. It could get better.
No matter how much distance we put
between us and this house, I bring
with it with me. And I'll feel it
every minute we're together. And I'll
blame loving you for how much it
hurts. And then even these four days
won't be anything more than something
sordid and... a mistake.
Francesca, listen to me. You think
what's happened to us happens to just
anybody? What we feel for each other?
How much we feel? We're not even two
separate people anymore. Some people
search their whole lives for it and
wind up alone -- most people don't
even think it exists and you're going
to tell me that giving it up is the
right thing to do? That staying here
alone in a marriage, alone in a town
you hate, in a house you don't feel
apart of anymore -- you're telling me
that's the right thing to do!?
We are the choices we've made, Robert.
TO HELL WITH YOU!
He turns his back on her.
(desperate to explain)
You don't understand -- no one does.
When a woman makes the choice to
marry, to have children -- in one way
her life begins but in another way it
stops. You build a life of details.
You become a mother, a wife and you
stop and stay steady so that your
children can move. And when they
leave they take your life of details
with them. And then you're expected
move again only you don't remember
what moves you because no one has
asked in so long. Not even yourself.
You never in your life think that
love like this can happen to you.
But now that you have it -
I want to keep it forever. I want to
love you the way I do now the rest of
my life. Don't you understand -- we'll
lose it if we leave. I can't make an
entire life disappear to start a new
one. All I can do is try to hold onto
to both. Help me. Help me not lose
She embraces him. He wraps his arms around her. He whispers.
Don't leave me. Don't leave me alone.
This breaks her heart, knowing how hard it is for him to say
this. She holds him tighter, until -
Listen. Maybe you feel this way,
maybe you don't. Maybe it's just
because you're in this house. Maybe
... maybe when they come back
tomorrow you'll feel differently.
Don't you think that's possible?
I don't know. Please...
I'm going to be here a few more days.
I'll be at the Inn. We have some
time. Let's not say any more now.
No. Don't do this.
I CAN'T SAY GOODBYE YET! We'll leave
it for now. We're not saying goodbye.
We're not making any decision. Maybe
you'll change your mind. Maybe we'll
accidentally run into each other and
... and you'll change your mind.
Robert, if that happens, you'll have
to decide. I won't be able to.
She cries in his arms. He kisses her as if for the last time.
Then, quickly, separates himself and leaves the house.
EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE
Robert walks briskly towards his truck not wanting to look
back. He gets in, starts it up and drives away.
Francesca exits the house and watches the truck recede into
the distance. She stops when she reaches the front gate,
leaning against it. She murmurs to herself -
Keep going. Please.
The truck drives away. Then, suddenly, stops. Francesca's
heart quickens. She watches as the truck stands on the road
in the distance. As if Robert was deciding to turn around or
keep going. Francesca waits. Suddenly, the door to the truck
flies open and Robert exits. Francesca loses all restraint.
She opens the gate but her dress is caught on it. Robert
stands by the truck. Francesca tears at the dress, ripping
off a button which falls to the ground. She runs down the
road. Seeing her, Robert runs towards her as well.
They grab each other furiously. For these few moments, all
considerations are gone. As he kisses her, he murmurs:
I forgot to take your picture.
She laughs through her tears as they continue to kiss. Camera
pans up to the road beyond Robert's truck.
WE SEE RICHARD'S TRUCK DRIVING TOWARDS THEM. For a moment it
seems as if they will be caught until we realize RICHARD'S
TRUCK IS BEING SUPERIMPOSED as the LIGHT GRADUALLY BRIGHTENS
EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE
Richard, Michael and Carolyn drive down the road toward the
house. Robert's truck, and all traces of him, are gone.
Francesca steps into the doorway in a house dress to welcome
her family home -- wondering how this will feel.
JOHNSON KITCHEN - EVENING
The Johnson family has dinner as Francesca narrates:
You all came home. And with you, my
life of details.
EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE
Everyone is doing various daily chores.
A day or two past and with each
thought of him, a task would present
itself like a life saver, pulling me
further and further away from those
INT. LIVING ROOM - EVENING
Francesca is reading. Richard watches TV.
I was grateful. I felt safe.
EXT. WINTERSET - MAIN STREET - DAY
Richard and Francesca drive up to the general store to buy
groceries. Francesca heads for the store as Richard crosses
Want anything special for dinner?
Hmm. How about that brown sugar meat
loaf you make?
She enters the store.
INT. GENERAL STORE - DAY
Francesca makes small talk with the grocery lady as she buys
what she needs.
EXT. MAIN STREET - DAY
Francesca places a bag of groceries on the front seat of the
truck, then gets in herself to wait for Richard. She takes a
deep breath and removes a handkerchief from her bag to wipe
the sweat from her face. She freezes -
Through the windshield, she sees ROBERT standing beside his
truck across the street, staring at her. Her heart stops.
For a moment, she isn't even sure he's real.
The town moves about its business around them. But neither
notice or care. Whatever safety or forgetfulness she felt is
gone. Her feelings burst through. She sits there helpless
before him -- willing to go or stay depending on what he did.
He begins walking towards her. She prepares herself. Her life
will change -- it has to. There's not turning back.
But the closer Robert gets, the clearer he can see that she
is crying. And he stops.
Without any words, he realizes what taking her with him would
mean. With just a glance, he sacrifices her. With their eyes
locked in the middle of Main Street -- in front of the whole
town -- they smile and say goodbye.
Robert returns to his truck. He drives off down Main Street,
taking the first left.
Moments later, Richard throws the feed bag into the back of
his truck and gets in. Francesca is wiping her eyes.
He doesn't notice. He drives off in the same direction as
For a moment, I didn't know where I
was. And for a split second, the
thought crossed my mind that he
really didn't want me -- that it was
easy to walk away.
As they pass the corner where Robert made his left turn,
Francesca turns to look and sees:
ROBERT'S TRUCK IS PARKED just off the corner. As if he had to
drive away to get out of sight, but couldn't bring himself to
drive any further.
The sight of him hiding there breaks Francesca's heart, she
turns away from her husband to hide the tears.
EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY
WE REPLAY THE OPENING SCENE FROM THE MOVIE:
Carolyn is in the yard picking vegetables. Her parents drive
up in their truck. She steps out with her bag of groceries
and walks briskly into the house. Richard follows more slowly
with his bag of feed, stopping at the gate to pick up the
button from Francesca's red dress.
Francesca enters and places her groceries on the counter. She
tries to compose herself. She sees the radio before her. She
turns it on. The Dinah Washington song "I'LL CLOSE MY EYES"
evokes every feeling of love and loss within her. She begins
She hears Richard enter the house. She stands out of sight,
holding her hand to her mouth to muffle her crying. She hears:
Dad! You bought the wrong feed!
She hears Richard exit the house.
EXT. LUCY REDFIELD'S HOUSE - NIGHT
A hand knocks on a door. Lucy Redfield opens it to find
Francesca standing there with a cake.
Hi. I'm Francesca Johnson. I just
feel awful I haven't come to visit
sooner. I hope I'm not interrupting
anything. Is it too late?
Lucy is shocked and moved at the same time.
No. Not at all.
I was wondering if... maybe you'd
like some company.
I baked a cake!
Lucy looks at the cake. She's a little dazed by all this.
Uh... sure. Please. Come in. I'll
Francesca enters. Lucy closes the door.
EXT. IOWA LAKEFRONT - DAWN
Michael continues reading beside Carolyn as the sun rises.
"We became inseparable, Lucy and I.
The funny thing is, I didn't tell her
about Robert until years later. But,
for some reason, being with her
somehow made me feel it was safe to
think about him. To continue loving
him. The town loved talking about the
two of us but we didn't care. And
neither did your father. Which I
thought was a lovely thing. I
received Robert's letter and my
photograph soon after. I always
wondered if your father found them.
I was never quite sure..."
INT. KITCHEN - EVENING
At dinner, Richard remembers the button he found.
Oh, Franny, is this yours?
Francesca sees the button. She speaks her original lines MOS
as HER NARRATION is hard:
I almost told him. In that moment I
felt as if I couldn't hold it back.
If he really loved me maybe he'd
She returns to her meal. The family eats in silence.
FRANCESCA (cont'd; V.O.)
But love won't obey our expectations.
Its mystery is pure and absolute.
What Robert and I had, could not
continue if we were together. What
Richard and I shared would vanish if
we were apart. But how I wanted to
share this. How would our lives have
changed if I had? Could anyone else
have seen the beauty of it?
INT. JOHNSON KITCHEN - NIGHT
Francesca moves about the kitchen with a frantic pace as she
puts the finishing touches on a cake. Placing the frosting
bowl in the sink, she hears someone upstairs exiting their
bedroom. She quickly gathers the cake and her bag and exits
through the screen door.
EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - NIGHT
Fighting tears, she walks to the truck from around the house.
She gets in and starts it. She vaguely hears her daughter
from the front door.
But she doesn't acknowledge it and drives away.
EXT. MOTOR INN - NIGHT
Her truck approaches and then speeds past the Inn where
Robert is staying. We can see his truck in the parking lot.
INT. JOHNSON BEDROOM - NIGHT
And older Francesca cares for a sickly Richard. He lies in bed
beside an array of medicines and tonics. She wipes his
forehead with a cool cloth as he takes his pills.
He nods. She smiles. She shuts off the light and lays beside
I just want to say... I know you had
your own dreams. I'm sorry I couldn't
give them to you. I love you so much.
Francesca turns to him. She is so touched, tears fill her
eyes. She nestles close to him, wrapping her arms around him.
EXT. DES MOINES
Francesca eats at the same restaurant she shared with Robert.
After your father died, I tried to
get in touch with Robert but found
out he had left the National
Geographic soon after the Madison
County. No one seemed to know where
he was. My only connections to him
were the places we'd been to that one
day. And so each week, I'd re-visit
EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY
Francesca greets a UPS man with an envelope and a package.
And then one day, I received the
letter from his attorney, with a
INT. JOHNSON LIVING ROOM
Francesca reads the letter informing her of Robert's death.
She then unwraps the package to reveal a MEDALLION with her
name inscribed and A PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK; a published collection
of black and white photos by Robert Kincaid entitled "Four
Days." Beautiful, dramatic black and white representations of
love and passion, loneliness and pain, and union. On the
front page there reads an inscription "FOR F."
"There is a pleasure in the pathless
woods... There is a rapture on the
lonely shore... There is society
where none intrudes... By the deep
sea and music in its roar... I love
not man the less, but Nature more...
From these our interviews, in which
I steal... From all I may be, or
have been before... To mingle with the
Universe and feel... What I can
ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal."
The quote is Byron's. She smiles with pride as she cries.
EXT. IOWA LAKEFRONT - EARLY MORNING
Michael sits with his arm around Carolyn as they look out
over the lake. The notebooks are closed, but Francesca's
narrations continue over the next few scenes.
There has not been a day since that
I have not thought of him. When he
said we were no longer two people, he
INT. JOHNSON BEDROOM
Carolyn, looking through her mom's closet, finds the summer
dress she bought in Des Moines to wear for Robert.
We were bound together as tightly as
two people can be. If it hadn't been
for him, I don't think I would have
lasted on the farm all these years.
Remember that dress of mine you
wanted, Carolyn -- the one you said I
never wore. Well, I know I was silly.
But to me, it was as if you were
asking to wear my wedding dress to go
to the movies.
Carolyn smiles as she holds the dress before her.
INT. MOTEL - DAY
A tired Michael finds his way through the motel to his room.
After reading all this, I hope you
can now understand my burial request.
It was not the ravings of some mad
old lady. I gave my life to my
family. I wish to give Robert what is
left of me.
INT. MOTEL ROOM
Michael enters to find his two children watching TV and an
angry Betty folding clothes.
He looks at them lovingly, then at Betty who angrily motions
for him to follow her into the bedroom.
She slams the door behind him and talks in a irate whisper.
You have been out all night long! Do
I have a right to ask where you've
been or is this a family secret?
Michael just looks at her. He gently takes her hand.
No. No more secrets.
He kisses her hand. Betty is floored.
Do I make you happy, Betty?
(she is stunned)
Because I want to. I want to more
He gently kisses her cheek then embraces her. Betty -- for the
first time in her life -- is utterly speechless.
INT. JOHNSON BEDROOM
Wearing her mother's dress, Carolyn sits on the bed holding
the phone, waiting for Steve to pick up. In her other hand,
she holds the divorce lawyers card.
(on the phone)
Hi, Steve? It's me. Good. You?...
Listen, we have to talk... Well,
how about you?... Uh, no -- I've
decided I'm going to stay for a
while... I don't know how long...
No, I won't be coming back...
I'm not angry, Steve. I'm not angry
EXT. ROSEMAN BRIDGE - DAY
Michael and his family stand beside Carolyn and a Priest.
"I gave Lucy his photography book. If
you're interested, take a look. If my
words still leave something unclear,
perhaps his pictures can illuminate.
After all, that's what an artist does
Michael receives the urn from the priest. He and Carolyn walk
away from the group towards the bridge. They stop. Carolyn
removes the lip. Michael sets his mother's ashes free.
"I love you both with all my heart.
Do what you have to, to be happy in
this life. There is so much beauty."