Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality film but important ommissions, 28 April 2014
This review is from: Iris [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
Like Frida, the actresses give a warmer face to a brooding real life woman, smoothing off some edges and lightening a shadow. As a film, it is excellent, but watch even a short piece of footage of the real John and Iris, and you see that these are creations of the film, not really like the actual people. Jim Broadbent missed the eccentric lively charm of the real Professor Bayley with his distinct mouth movements and even his sideburns. It makes John of the film the weaker vessel, when it seems he was not. Performances are excellent, but Judi and Kate are best, although I think they make the titular heroine more appealing than perhaps an exact impersonation with her jilting, Scandinavian sounding brittle English would have. John comes across as hopelessly bumbling and then (when Iris is ill) patronising, when the real John balances his stuttering shyness with a wry jollity that would change the tone and improve it.

Are the reprises of water and cycling scenes meant to be an antithesis to the fading memories that older Iris is having, or is this where she retracts in her dark mind map?

Overall, it's moving and profound but not without humour and lighter moments. I think it provokes some questions about Alzheimer's and that perhaps rather than loosing one's mind, that it takes one to a place that is less easily shared and entered by others.

THE EXTRAS are about 15 mins. There's the trailer going straight into a short featurette with just with the cast and crew and it's not the same as the Strange Love TV documentary that coincided with the film's release. This DVD featurette includes all four leads and the writer/director, but not any of Iris' friends.

The strangeness of Iris' loves is played down here, such as the rather dark relationship with Elias Canetti; and her affairs with other women. In a way, a comparison with Frida is very appropriate - a life long bohemian couple who had relationships with both sexes, but who kept together through the infidelity, and whose marriage ends with the illness of the woman. The unnamed woman whose affair was serious enough to rock Iris' marriage and job isn't hinted at. When this Iris lists her previous intimate friends, she omits not only Elias Canetti but any woman, and only a tiny scene with a twist of the mouth suggests that she might be interested in other women.

Wistful, moving (though funny and warm too) but not a film that can be watched too often or in the wrong mood.
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