Iris Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 29, 2011
Whilst the performances and cast we very good and well suited to each other, I feel like this is supposed to make Iris look like a great person who had a brilliant life but what I saw was completely to the contrary. They showcased Iris to be a selfish, horrible and uncaring woman who only has a sense of humanity when she becomes ill. Her poor husband John who she treated terribly should have left her the moment he met her. Really didn't enjoy this film at all.
Super Reviewer
January 12, 2009
Heart wrenching true story of the remarkable life of Iris Murdoch and her utterly devoted husband John Bayley. I found myself having flashbacks of The Notebook and of my own grandmother's spiraling decline into darkness. God damn Alzheimer's disease.
Super Reviewer
July 13, 2010
Each individual performance was influenced by the actual character, but personality leaked in undoubtedly. Judi Dench, so utterly amazingly, took on Alzheimer's without her usual grace, which not only surpirsed me, but made me respect her more. Winslet was her usual whimsical self, and Broadbent, the cooky man of the hour, put on the appearance of a man with little left in life. Beautiful, and scary, it would have been much better had they focused more on Iris' past, and less on her later years.
Super Reviewer
½ November 3, 2010
While I watched this film, I enjoyed it. i enjoyed Dench's convincing portrayal of the Alzheimer's-afflicted Murdoch and Winslet as the vivacious younger Murdoch, and I was astounded by Jim Broadbent, who deserved the Oscar for Murdoch's stuttering, inferior-complex-afflicted, devoted husband. He is truly fantastic in this role.
But as I thought about the film, I realized just how eminently forgettable it is. Not only is it thin on plot, the narrative structure - with multiple flashbacks and half-scenes - actually detracts from the dramatic impact of the story. Attention story-tellers of all ilks: this is how *not* to do fractured time. Just because Tarantino can make it work, doesn't mean everyone else can. Also, for a moment, the Dench/Broadbent storyline seems to echo A Beautiful Mind, and we are mercifully given a central, driving goal, but this is unfortunately abandoned, and more rousing violins play.
Thank heavens for Broadbent, who almost makes it all worth it.
Super Reviewer
½ June 9, 2010
"Her greatest talent was for life"

True story of the lifelong romance between novelist Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley, from their student days through her battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Heartbreaking true-life account biopic about acclaimed British author Iris Murdoch who succumbed to Alzheimer's disease. Dench and Winslet play Murdoch in her latter and early days respectively as well as Broadbent and Bonneville as her beloved husband and colleague in literature John Bayley (all by the way superb and effortless in their transitions onscreen uncannily echoing each other). Based on Bayley's books about his late, great wife and the downward spiral that was cruelly ironic for such a woman of wit and talent.
Super Reviewer
July 8, 2007
it's SO hard to rate movies like this because even though i don't enjoy the movie i understand the art behind it. like the acting was absolutely fantastic. dame judi dench's acting goes beyond skill; she has a visceral understanding of the art of acting and executes brilliantly. kate winslet is a bubbly mass of energy, mysterious and flamboyant. jim broadbent so completely absorbs his character it's like i'm watching 100% john bayley. jim broadbent has disappeared for those 90 minutes and john bayley has superseded him. undeniably the acting is top-notch and the movie, although i didn't like it, was "good". so in the end it just boils down to preference. i can't completely denigrate the movie just because i personally didn't like it. i recognize and appreciate the acting and directing. it's just didn't strike me at the right chords. i wasn't particularly sad when iris started slowly deteriorating, and, especially during the end, it just seemed like a game of cat-and-mouse between iris's insane and sane moments. this made the movie seem 10 times longer than it was. maybe it was the subject that didn't interest me - i'm more a dialogue person, and movie exuded more of an atmosphere. and fabulous acting sort of helped me get to the atmosphere, but it didn't keep me there the whole way.
Super Reviewer
May 1, 2007
The casting of Hugh Bonneville, as the young John Bayley, and Jim Broadbent, as the older John Bayley, is perfect. Even though I wouldn't initially think that it would work, Kate Winslet, as the young Iris Murdoch, and Judi Dench, as the older Iris, bear a striking similarity as well. Iris may be a more popular author in England. This movie about her life with Bayley was intriguing, but still left her mysterious. Her writings and ideas are not explored in very much depth. She is presented as having somewhat counter-cultural ideas. For me, it wasn't quite enough information to make me add one of her books to my reading list though. Now at least I'm aware of her name and this bit of history. We only see snippets of everyday occurrences as the narrative jumps back and forth in time (from the '50s to the '90s). It is a love story. Iris and John have a complex relationship as academic types. And while the filmmakers try to make that the primary focus, a good portion of the story deals with the challenges of Alzheimer's disease. It is beautiful and sad, but doesn't feel quite complete.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ April 18, 2011
Though a bit underdeveloped, confusing and inconsistant in its times jumps, "Iris" is still a quite well-acted, well-written, emotional and ultimately, rather immersive biopic.
Super Reviewer
February 15, 2010
Glad to see a film depicting individuals at different points in their life where there are consistently good performances "across the ages" as it were. Kate Winslet and Judi Dench are great but I particularly remember Jim Broadbent.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2007
True story about an author's fall from Alzheimer's disease. Judi Dench paints a terribly sad portrait and Jim Broadbent gives an achingly tender supporting performance.
Super Reviewer
July 11, 2010
This one fell flat for me. I didn't feel the emotion of the struggle. "Away From Her" is much better at showcasing what Alzheimer's does to people and relationships. Even the "Notebook" is more spot on...
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2009
Iris is a life story of the British novelist Iris Murdoch and her battle with Alzheimer's disease. Iris was portrayed in youth by Kate Winslet and in old age by Judy Dench, who was perfect in this role. The story was told through scenes of their younger life to the older life. What I have missed was the real sense of Iris, her works, that could have give a deeper meaning of the character. The movie was more about the disease then on the character Iris herself. But all in all, it was a good movie.
Super Reviewer
May 28, 2008
A sweet sad movie about falling in love and getting older.
Super Reviewer
½ February 24, 2008
A quiet and intriguing biopic of the famous English writer Iris Murdoch, 'Iris' is a poignant drama exploring the author's relationship with her childhood sweetheart, John Bailey, and her diagnosis with Alzheimer's later in life. Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent pull off marvellous performances as the ageing couple; Dench's erratic behaviour, her quiet moments of seclusion and her absolute acceptance demonstrate true passion toward the material, while Broadbent is just as impressive, presenting the frustration and sadness of such a situation. Kate Winslet and Hugh Bonneville then portray the younger versions of the married couple, and both parallel extremely effectively with their older counterparts - the director has carefully chosen the actors, and the dialogue and mannerisms presented clearly reflect this. On the other hand, the transition from health to illness seems sudden and unbalanced, and while individual scenes are directed with sensitivity and are clearly of a harrowing nature, the film's editing is often incoherent, giving it an amateur feel opposite to the source material. It's a fine drama, with more than enough soul and performances alone worth lauding over, but it is routine, conventional and doesn't break any new ground - and for such an acclaimed writer there is the feeling the film doesn't reach the heights or become the moving and informative drama it could have, the lack of ambition more a sad acceptance than a source of frustration.
March 28, 2010
Alzheimer's 101

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Director and Screenwriter of Iris, Richard Eyre, states during the special features DVD Commentary that one cannot understand the enormity of the loss to Alzheimer's of the protagonist, novelist Iris Murdoch, without appreciating what was lost. So he divides the story of Iris into the present day narrative of her deterioration due to Alzheimer's and flashbacks to the courtship and eventual marriage of the younger Iris (played by Kate Winslet) to Professor John Bayley back in the 1950s. The young Bayley is played by Hugh Bonneville who bears a striking resemblance to Jim Broadbent, who plays the elderly Bayley opposite Judi Dench as the now afflicted elderly Iris.

Because Eyre approaches Murdoch as a virtual seminal figure in the history of world literature, the flashback scenes add up to nothing much more than a hagiography. While the contrast between the two personalities, the mercurial, flirtatious Iris and bookish academician Baley should lead to some gripping tension, in the end there is scant conflict between the two. Yes, Iris's voluminous affairs are alluded to and there is one scene where she and Bayley have a protracted argument regarding those affairs, in the end however, there is little we learn that is interesting about the earlier relationship. While Eyre has the benefit of Bayley's recent recollections concerning the extent and scope of Iris's deterioration, the flashbacks are obviously based on distant memories of the relationship. In short, I don't believe that Eyre has made his case that there was a great 'loss' based on his portrait of the early Iris. As a young woman she flirted and had affairs with other men; eventually she matured and was a nurturing presence in not-so-confident John Bayley's life. Eyre's flashbacks are photographed quite nicely and the setting evokes the bygone era of the 50s. But I still want to know what is so special about Iris Murdoch. I might find that out reading her books, but it certainly is not conveyed here in this film.

Eyre is on much more solid in ground the retelling of Murdoch's decline in more recent times. Judi Dench is excellent (as usual) as a woman who gradually deteriorates due to the ravages of Alzheimer's. The decline is subtle at the beginning as we see Dench struggle with language. Later, in a memorable scene, she is unable to recall the name of the then current British Prime Minister, Tony Blair (but remembers it later). When her novel arrives in the mail, she shows no awareness that she's the author and is more perturbed by the presence of the mailman ("it's only the postman"). More harrowing scenes follow: as she deteriorates further, she wanders out of the house, only to be found hours later by a former friend who attended their wedding (and who Bayley fails to recognize!); upon being told of the death of a close friend, Iris freaks out, grabs the wheel of the car Bayley is driving which results in an accident?she's thrown from the car but ends up lying in the woods on the side of the road, virtually uninjured.

Jim Broadbent received the best supporting Oscar for his performance in Iris and it's well deserved. At first Bayley is in denial about Iris's condition. He continues to treat her as if she's normal. In a classic study of the stages of grief, Bayley (a suppressed character to begin with) finally lets out his frustration and anger as Iris's condition takes a turn for the worse. Eventually there's acceptance, despite Iris's complete loss of memory. At the end, Bayley is forced to put Iris in a home but is right there with her as she passes on.

Iris is a graceful and beautifully photographed film. While the examination of Iris and John Baley's early relationship is superficial, the chronicle of Iris's sad decline is a textbook study of what happens to people when they end up afflicted with Alzheimer's. What's more, Broadbent and Dench, convey the intimate bond between the two characters despite the overwhelmingly trying circumstances.
Super Reviewer
November 6, 2009
"Real-life story of the enduring love between author Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley". A beautiful love story, with a sad ending indeed. I dare you to get through this one without needing a tissue. An excellent movie!!!
½ February 3, 2008
The entire cast of Iris does a tremendous job with Judi Dench and Kate Winslet the standouts. This surprised me on how much I actually like it. It's actually really sad and depressing, but still really good.
June 9, 2008
Very affecting love story with the divine Judi Dench battling Alzheimer's. The entire cast is a knockout in particular Dench, Kate Winslet & Jim Broadbent in his Oscar-winning performance. Very sad...
July 23, 2007
The emotional element of this film is perfect. The performances of Broadbent and Dench illustrate how wrenching it must have been for both philosopher/writer Iris Murdoch and husband John Bayley as she spiraled into Alzheimer's disease. Winslet and Bonneville also offer fine performances as the younger Murdoch and Bayley. My only issue with the film is that I wish more of Murdoch's writing and concepts had been woven into the narrative--which I feel, would have given the uninitiated a clearer indication of why the loss of such a brilliant, vital mind to a brain disease was so tragic and ironic.
July 13, 2007
Judy Dench and Kate Winslet at their best! Based on a true story, Iris Murdoch has alzheimer's and both she and her husband are recalling their youth as Iris's memory fades.
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