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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 Stephen Groenewegen

"In loving memory"
5 stars

Iris is more a love story than a straight biopic of English novelist Iris Murdoch. It’s also about the crippling effect of Alzheimer’s disease.

Director Richard Eyre, and co-writer Charles Wood, have adapted two books by Murdoch’s husband, John Bayley: Elegy for Iris and Iris: A Memoir. The film cuts back and forth between the blossoming love of Bayley (Hugh Bonneville) and Murdoch (Kate Winslet) at Oxford University in the 1950s, to its fruition: Bayley (Jim Broadbent) and Murdoch (Judi Dench), still together 40 years later. In the modern scenes, Bayley is caring for Murdoch as she slowly succumbs to Alzheimer’s.

The tour-de-force performances elevate Iris beyond a disease-of-the-week-telemovie. Bonneville plays the younger, painfully introverted Bayley, who circles Murdoch longingly at Oxford. He’s a convincing counterpart to Broadbent’s older incarnation of the character. Winslet plays the bohemian Murdoch with free-spirited charisma. Dench’s transformation from the secure, authoritative Murdoch to a bewildered and frightened woman is heartbreaking. The mutual passion of Murdoch and Bayley, both young and old, for words, writing and each other shines in the performances.

Eyre, who’s directed mostly in British television and theatre, has made Iris as a study of contrasts - between ages, and across time periods. The fragmentary script moves abruptly from past to present and reveals the story in snatches. It’s an appropriate device because it echoes the disruptive nature of Murdoch’s illness. Thankfully, Eyre avoids cheap sentimentality, and the film’s emotional peaks occur at odd moments - such as Dench telling Bayley “I love you” after they fall into a roadside ditch. Mention is made of Murdoch’s literary accomplishments (46 novels in all, as well as poetry and essays) and also what inspired Murdoch to write.

The theme of contrast is sustained by Gemma Jackson’s production design and Roger Pratt’s cinematography. The initially messy writers’ home becomes more chaotic as Bayley struggles to manage his wife’s illness. Pratt presents the youthful scenes in rich, deeply coloured tones and the present day in pallid greys.

Iris is intimate, involving and deeply affecting.

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originally posted: 02/27/02 19:19:03
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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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