Iris is a tediously dull biopic on famed literati Iris Murdoch, in which the TV-movie-of-the-week-caliber BBC production annoyingly splinters the story into past and present fragments at the end of every-other scene.(Actually, it is splintered into past and past, since Dame Iris has already died, but one fragment consists of her early “courtship” with John Bayley, among many other promiscuities, while the latter end unravels her deterioration from Alzheimer’s.) An unflattering shot of Kate Winslet swimming naked, followed by an unflattering shot of Judi Dench swimming (thankfully) in a bathing suit. So on and so forth. Director Richard Eyre smothers the tepid melodrama with a pedagogical discourse on the superficiality of love (“Love’s the only language everyone understands”/ “I can read love, but I don’t speak it”), and while one may grasp a passing coup d’oiel of what Iris was like, it completely fails to present who she was. The one good thing that I got out of this was a fantastic performance by Jim Broadbent as Bayley, made-up to look old and crickety, but in which he exudes more energy and excitement than all of Moulin Rouge’s steroids together. His young counterpart, Hugh Bonneville, was also equally as good—in resemblance (as were most of the characters’ counterparts) and in performance.
With Penelope Wilton and Timothy West.Final Verdict: D.