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Iris [DVD] (2001)
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Biographical account of the life of existentialist author Iris Murdoch as recalled in the memoirs of her husband, Professor John Bayley. John (Hugh Bonneville) is a shy slightly goofy undergraduate at Oxford who falls for fellow student, the brilliant and charismatic Iris Murdoch (Kate Winslet). Against all the odds she returns his affection and so begins a love affair that will endure for over 40 years, amid the ups and downs of her achievements as a famous philosophical novelist. The film eventually flashes forward to the couple in older age, with John (Jim Broadbent) slowly realising that Iris (Dame Judi Dench) has a mental illness, one that threatens the existence of her personality, of the person he knows and loves.
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Top Customer Reviews
Of the performances, Kate Winslet is radiance and intelligence personified and is absolutely believable as the gifted young author that Iris Murdoch was. Hers, incidentally is the most unsympathetic and verbose character-stretch, what with her wolfish appetite for men and words, but Winslet's luminous bare-all interpretaton has a feverish, unpretentious energy to it that makes it so compulsively watchable.
Hugh Bonneville as the younger Bayley [Murdoch's fiancee and later, her husband] hasn't got the best lines, but makes sure that his stammer makes every line he utters, momentous.
But of course, Iris is a freewheeling showcase of Judi Dench's intelligence whose performance as the Alzheimer-stricken Murdoch is so heart-felt and sincere, that you can almost touch her. Having worked with patients of Alzheimer's myself, I was absolutely shocked as to how much Judi's performance [right from her body language and her slow but definite detachment from the real world] struck home. Be it the last scene where she swings in the elderly home corridor or her reactions to Blair's speech on television or even the way she reacts when her last book is out-- each of those scenes will forever haunt me as some of the most honest moments I have encountered on screen.Read more ›
Directed by Richard Eyre, who converted John Bayley's book, A Memoir and Elegy for Iris, into the screenplay, the film honors Iris, John Bayley, and the love that survived even Alzheimer's disease. Judi Dench not only looks like Iris Murdoch, but also endows her with fierce independence, a curiosity about the meaning of life, and a strong will, characteristics which served Iris well, even in her decline. Jim Broadbent, who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, shows his love for her at the same time that he becomes enormously frustrated at his helplessness in dealing with her decline.
Alternating between present and past, director Eyre develops innumerable visual parallels, showing Murdoch as a wild young girl (passionately played by Kate Winslett), uninhibitedly exploring every aspect of life, with Dench repeating similar scenes (such as the swimming scenes) late in life. The young John Bayley (Hugh Bonneville) plays his role so close in style to Broadbent that except for the obvious age differences, they could well be the same person, both blushing on cue.Read more ›
I have watched the DVD several times, and recommend it as a superb example of quality and professionalism.
The screenplay by Richard Eyre and Charles Wood, based on the books "Iris: A Memory" and "Elegy for Iris" by her husband John Bayley, attempts to convey cinematically what has been lost. Consequently we cut back and forth between the present, as John (Jim Broadbent) struggles to take care of his beloved Iris (Judi Dench), and disjointed scenes from the past, as young John (Hugh Bonneville) and Iris (Kate Winslet) meet and fall in love. Sometimes they are brief glimpses, other times extended scenes, combining to provide a disjointed pictures of these two lives.
I was surprised that I do not especially remember Iris Murdoch as a novelist; I know that I have never read any of her books. So my sense of what a great mind was lost is based entirely on what we see of Iris at the top of her game in the film. Clearly "Iris" is a film that presents these lives in fragments and pieces. We never fully understand why Iris decides to marry Jim; it must have been a superb meeting of the minds, but that is not the sense we get from the film where Jim is pretty much an amiable fuddy duddy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Thoroughly enjoyed. Good cast. Worth watching, but what an odd couple!!Published 4 months ago by H. Aitchison