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Overall Rating

Worth A Look33.96%
Average: 13.21%
Pretty Bad: 16.98%
Total Crap: 1.89%

5 reviews, 23 user ratings

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Iris (2002)
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by EricDSnider

"More love story than biopic; some crucial biopic elements are neglected."
4 stars

In "Iris," the British novelist Iris Murdoch herself says that education and freedom of the mind are the most important things. Later, when asked about her love for words, she says, "If one doesn't have words how does one think?"

These are tragic notions for a tragic movie, because we know Iris is destined to be stricken with Alzehimer's, which will destroy the very mind she lives in. If you don't know this walking in, you know it soon enough: The film barely lets us meet Fully Functioning Iris before turning her into Alzheimer's Iris.

That is the film's greatest flaw. We catch a glimpse of how brilliant and lively Iris was, played with typical classy perfection by Judi Dench. As usual with Dench's characters, we wish we could meet this character and be her friend. And then, almost immediately, she begins to forget things, to fumble for words and to slip into incoherency. It should not need explaining that incoherent characters do not make for very good protagonists, but that's what we have in "Iris," which was directed by Richard Eyre and written by him and Charles Wood, adapted from Iris' husband John Bayley's memoirs.

Iris' descent is intercut with scenes from her early life, in which she is played by Kate Winslet. She meets John (Hugh Bonneville), a stammering young student who can't believe anyone as gorgeous and popular and Iris would want anything to do with him. He will spend the rest of his life devoted to her, putting up with her occasionally difficult behavior because he knows, at the end of the day, that she loves and needs him.

It is the needing him that eventually becomes centerpiece to their relationship. The older John is played by Jim Broadbent, and this, in fact, is the performance to watch. Winslet, Bonneville and Dench are all fine in their various capacities, but they don't get to do much. Broadbent, on the other hand, plays a character with flesh and bones, with passions, ideas and thoughts. Most of all, John is filled with sweet, doddering old love for his Iris.

The film is about the power of the mind and the tragedy of losing it, but it is also a very moving love story, played with heartbreaking sincerity by Broadbent. He deserves the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor; I only wish the character he's supporting were given more humanity. Knowing the original Iris would have made her fate even sadder.

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originally posted: 03/03/02 05:47:01
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User Comments

8/05/09 Billy I wouldn't watch this shit if I were you 1 stars
9/19/06 marlina truly boring . overly filled with depressing scenes... 2 stars
6/15/04 T. Maj Unrelentingly depressing. No one over 60 should see it 2 stars
3/24/04 Margie another great performance from dame dench, and jim broadbent couldn't have been better. 4 stars
1/20/04 Charles Tatum Well acted, but too short 4 stars
6/11/03 Mystique Broadbent and the movie 5 stars
5/01/03 Andrew Carden Dench Is Perfect (As Usual...), but This Film Is Boring and Tiredsome. Winslet Is Miscast. 2 stars
3/11/03 Shadaan Felfeli Great film for a discerning audiance.Giving Halle Berry the oscar over Dench was a travesty 5 stars
11/16/02 Big Ted An Oscar for Dench, Broadbent, Winslet, and Bonneville, please! 5 stars
9/29/02 Peter Sherlock It's more about Dench and Broadbent than Murdoch. A good try. 3 stars
8/27/02 ownerofdajoint agreatviewofalzheimers 5 stars
6/09/02 natasha Jim Broadbent broke my heart in this 4 stars
4/05/02 Teresa Brilliant. More a celebration of a life than the sad story I expected. 4 stars
3/17/02 rajeshjha spellbound 5 stars
3/12/02 spaceworm Oscar Scmoscer. Say something intelligent! (It's Broadbent's film anyway.) 5 stars
3/08/02 Robert Greg is smoking crack. This is a truly beautiful movie. Geeky guy gets hot, smart girl! 5 stars
3/05/02 jann Judi Dench is brilliant .. as usual. She should get the Oscar. Outstanding. 5 stars
3/01/02 Pierce Lanson Not for young people. Brilliant acting. Judi will get the Oscar(1/3/02 5 stars
2/27/02 swanand its very good to see 5 stars
2/01/02 matthew smith a moving and ultimately a touching experience 4 stars
1/25/02 jamuna nice 5 stars
1/23/02 Andrew Benson This is a seriously important and beautiful movie. 5 stars
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  15-Feb-2002 (R)
  DVD: 20-Aug-2002



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