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Plot: 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. Runtime: 91 mins Release Date: 14 Dec 2001
This film succeeds where the overrated "A Beautiful Mind" fell short. It puts its subject's life into perspective and gives a sense of her worldview and, needs, and desires--as opposed to just focusing on the illness. I think it is also more effective in its use of different actors to portray the main characters at different ages, rather than using distracting age makeup, like in ABM. I came away from this with a profound admiration for Iris Murdock, whereas I felt like I hardly got to know John Nash at all.But enough with the comparisons. This film stands well on its own as a <more>
tribute to the companionship shared by Iris and her husband John Bayley throughout their long, complex, relationship. Broadbent deserved that Academy Award, although I would say he plays more of a lead character than supporting. Seeing Iris through Bayley's loving eyes is what makes the film an enriching experience. He is the one who must adapt to her unconventional lifestyle, and their journey together is a rewarding one.One person who commented stated that this was "another disease movie." Funny how you never hear a complaints about "another gangster movie" or "another romantic comedy" or "another suspense thriller." SO WHAT? First of all, it is not a disease movie, it is at its heart a romance, and a "meaning of life" film, much moreso than a film about Alzheimer's disease. Secondly, the disease is the device used to illustrate their level of understanding and commitment to each other. And finally, I cannot imagine telling Murdock's story WITHOUT giving the disease its proper weight in the course of the film.The scenes when the characters are younger are blended seamlessly with the latter day scenes. Kate Winslet and Hugh Bonneville uncannily resembling a young Broadbent are very true to their older counterparts' personalities, and add yet another dimension to film. All in all, this is a production of which director Richard Eyre and cast and Bayley, who wrote the book on which the film is based should be extremely proud. It should have been seen by more people in 2001. Grade: A
"If one doesn't have words how does one think?" (by Anonymous_Maxine)
Iris is one of those dramas that is so startlingly well acted and accurate to reality that you truly see the people on screen suffering through the story rather than the actors portraying them. And in a film that stars Judi Dench, that is a remarkable achievement. Dench and Kate Winslet are made to look so similar that when the film jumps back and forth between past and present, which it does quite often, it is never jarring no matter how abrupt it is. The young Iris, played by Winslet, is similar to the character that she played in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in many ways. She is <more>
sexually adventurous without being promiscuous, independent without being unfriendly or unattached, and dependent without being needy or reliant. She ultimately pursues a successful career as a novelist, which serves to illustrate her love and dependence on words and to enhance the effect of her deterioration later in the film.Iris is famously a study of Alzheimer's disease, which is the kind of thing that rarely makes its way into mainstream films, so it is that much more moving that a movie as brilliant as this one takes on the subject and brings it to the forefront in such a dramatic fashion. Iris goes from being a tremendously successful novelist to not understanding which side of an open door she should pass in order to get through it. As she loses touch with reality and experiences more and more difficulty in speaking and understanding, the most moving scenes are the ones that show the suffering that her husband goes through before his own deterioration.Iris has spent her life exploring things like what it is that makes people happy and what makes them realize that they are happy once they are, and then shows as she loses touch with those things without even realizing it. Her husband, John Bayley, in a brilliant performance by Jim Broadbent, is the only man who she has ever been with that has truly loved her, and he is the one that has to watch her cognitive abilities decline. He is literally watching the love of his life slip away from him without her even realizing it.The film is beautifully shot and the musical score enhances the film spectacularly and unobtrusively. It brings out the emotions in a movie about losing not only memory, but about losing the your identity, losing yourself. The gradual nature of the onset of Alzheimer's disease is one of the most brilliantly presented elements in the film. There is a conversation that Iris and her husband have in which she gives him a quote, which he responds to in a way that shows his own mental decline, and then Iris' as well.Iris - "Between two evils always choose the one you haven't tried before."John - "Mae West. Oh my vest! I tore my vest again this morning!"Iris - "You must get some new vests."John "Jolly good "Iris "You must get some new vests," then, surprised at herself, "I just said that."This all kind of makes me wonder, because it is not very rare that I will ask someone a question that I already asked and they already answered, sometimes only a minute or two before, and when they tell me I just asked them that question I have to explain that I just wasn't sure if I had asked them out loud or just thought the question in my head. Where the answer ever went in my brain remains a mystery.It is very important that the movie spends so much time showing how much of a fiercely intelligent philosopher in Kate Winslet's words Iris Murdock was, because it emphasizes the totality with which Alzheimer's affects her ability to think. As a young woman she could talk circles around people, but when she grew older and Alzheimer's began to set in she became confused by the simplest concepts, and the difficulty that her husband found in attempting to explain things to her and hide what must have been his overwhelming emotion.I'm in the middle of reading a wonderful book by Sidney Lumet called Making Movies, and I just finished a chapter on actors, in which there is a section where he described some actors who believe so strongly in the material of a film that they will do whatever it takes to get the movie made. Many actors have taken salaries far below their usually asking prices in order to participate in a movie about which they felt very strongly, and Iris is one of those movies, although I don't know whether or not any of the actors took smaller salaries than they deserved. There is a short documentary on the DVD called 'A Look at Iris' in which the cast and crew talk about the movie, and it is clear how strongly they feel about the film. Kate Winslet nails it on the head in one clip, where she says that she knows that people who knew the real Iris Murdock would see the movie, so it was all the more important that she get the character exactly right. I love that.In Iris's own words, "If one doesn't have words how does one think?" That's exactly the question that this movie so touchingly explores. It is about people loving and then losing each other with torturous slowness, in one of the most moving and important films of 2001.
This film is a constant reminder of our mortality. The mind fades but we recall the most cherished memories. I remember my grandmother, as she was in her final stages of Alzheimer's, clearly looking into my eyes and her expression changed. She remembered I was important to her.This film captured the radiance and vibrancy of Iris' spirit and the deep, simple love and passion between two kindred souls. I can only dream to find this love of my own. I sobbed from beginning to end for many reasons i.e. sorrow, the true beauty of love, the importance of the senses, thinking, feeling and <more>
acting on our own desires...This is a reminder of what exactly film is which is TRUE art. All three main characters' acting was simply amazing and truly believable. However, heed my advice, you must be in the right mind frame. This is not a light hearted piece.
Iris Murdoch - author and educator and, ultimately, Alzheimer's victim. This is her story, well put together and well told and interesting if somewhat depressing all the way through.The movie pulls no punches about Alzheimer's and the horrible affects it has on both patients and caregivers. Judi Dench plays the afflicted Iris, gradually losing her ability to write, to think, to take care of herself, to recognize those around her. A good performance, but even better was that of Jim Broadbent as Iris' husband John, elderly himself and struggling against the odds to be the <more>
caregiver. He offers a realistic look at the struggle involved. He loves Iris, wants to take care of her, but also has to deal with the frustration he feels at her growing limitations, which every now and then explode into anger. He's also haunted by her past, which is complicated to say the least. She had had many lovers including possibly some female, which is hinted at but never confirmed , while he has known only her, and his jealousy comes out on occasion. For example, as she is lying in bed, in her own Alzheimer's induced world, he screams at her, "Who are you with now!"To give some historical context to the relationship the story is divided between the elderly John and Iris, and flashbacks of their younger versions played by Hugh Bonneville and Kate Winslett. All four actors playing these roles did a fine job. I don't think I've seen Winslett since her excellent performance in "Titanic"; she is hardly recognizable here - looking much older and more mature than that famous role of a few years ago, even though she's playing the young Iris.Be prepared as you watch this. This could be a very unpleasant movie. It's not happy or uplifting especially, and Iris is at best an anti-hero, whose sense of education apparently doesn't include much thought of commitment and fidelity in relationships. But it's a good movie, and your attention will never wander once you start off with it.9/10
And to think that I'd never heard of Iris Murdoch before this movie came out. (by lee_eisenberg)
Judi Dench gives the performance of a lifetime as author Iris Murdoch, who eventually developed Alzheimer's disease. She really gets into the role, as she's done with every one of her performances with which I'm familiar. Jim Broadbent won Best Supporting Actor playing her husband John Bayley, who loves her but often gets frustrated by her mental condition. This is certainly a movie that I recommend to everyone. Also starring Kate Winslet as young Iris, and Hugh Bonneville as young John.I still remember when Jim Broadbent won his Oscar. The next day, we were hiking up an Indian <more>
dwelling in Bandalier, New Mexico it was spring break , and I was thinking: "When people heard that, I bet that most of them were thinking "Jim who?".
This study of human emotion is one that should not be missed. The subject is dear to my heart in that I am a neurologist and can well appreciate the tremendous emotional turmoil that a family goes through in facing a member with SDAT, Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer's Type. The three stages are well depicted, and Judy Dench deserved her nomination for this masterpiece. Even the sensual scenes are handled delicately and tastefully, so that they meld into this perfect performance. It is a "Two Thumbs Upper" for sure.
A renowned couple deal with life's cruel fate (by barryrd)
Iris is a very moving film, in which Judi Dench and James Broadbent portray the ageing characters of Iris Murdoch and John Bayley, still much in love, as together they deal with Iris's Alzeimer's disease. The film is based on John Bayley's book of the real-life struggle which he and his famous literary wife endured. This stage of life is neither sad nor pathetic, but two people facing together life's sometimes cruel fate.We see through a series of flashbacks how they met and forged a lifelong relationship. The younger Iris and John are performed by Kate Winslet and Hugh <more>
Bonneville, as a fun-loving couple cycling through the countryside and going for swims off the nearest riverbank. Iris was a worldly woman involved with multiple male partners and John, a late-bloomer with a stutter, who doted on the gorgeous young Iris. Eventually, Iris settled into her role as a national literary figure, giving interviews and speeches in which beautifully crafted sentences rolled off her tongue. Then, rather suddenly, she was stricken with Alzeimer's disease.I was reminded of my own grandparents' fight with Alzeimer's as I watched Judi Dench in Iris Murdoch's character. Like my grandmother, Iris lost contact with reality and life ceased to make sense to her; yet, there were moments when she let us know that she still treasured those who cared for her. Physically strong and able to go for long walks, Iris had stamina that far surpassed her capacity to understand. These are the cruel ironies of Alzeimer's disease. As John Bayley, James Broadbent was the loving and faithful husband, who gave his all until he reached his own breaking point and agreed to put her in a home.Other actors who appear are Samuel West and Timothy West in a brief cameo as Iris's friend and John's rival Maurice in youth and old age; Juliet Aubrey and Penelope Wilton, as her friend Janet.John Bayley's book about Iris's illness has produced a fine film with great acting and an honest treatment of a real-life situation.
The Acting is Unbelievably Good but.... (by [email protected])
I would not send any one to see this movie who is not contemplating suicide and who requires a bit of encouragement. This is a two-sided tale, skillfully mixed together: the growing love between the young Iris Murdoch Kate Winslet and the young John Bayley Hugh Bonneville and the tragic deterioration into Alzheimer's disease of the older Iris Murdoch Judi Dench and strain it puts on her loving husband, the older John Bayley Jim Broadbent . Although most of the critical acclaim has gone to Dench and Winslet, their foils, Broadbent and Bonneville, hold up their end remarkably well. <more>
While it is barely possible that Kate Winslet might have aged into Judi Dench, the resemblance between Broadbent and Bonneville as his younger self is absolutely eerie, down to the clumsy mannerisms that both display. I can't think of a more seamlessly integrated, better acted intergenerational pairing than this film contains. And yet there is something seriously lacking: namely, any persuasive demonstration that Ms. Murdoch was the literary genius that others in the film assert she was. Admittedly, it would have been difficult to do. Writing genius is notoriously difficult to depict. A written or spoken narrative, a couple of semi-documentary interviews might have served at the expense, to be sure, of the continuity of the story . But for those who've never read any of Iris Murdoch's novels, this film is no more than a personal love story ending in a personal tragedy. Moreover, the love story itself is unconvincing. Winslet is a flaming beauty and the basis for her attraction to the clumsy, homely Bonneville is not shown, though one infers that it is intellectual compatibility. I wish I could say that the acting alone is sufficient to earn the highest possible rating. But if you can't quite credit the original romance and you are given no basis to believe in the greatness of the title character, those faults are serious enough to drop my rating of the film from a 10 to an 8.
this is less of a review and more of a statement! Janet stone in the movie was my grandmother! and Emma stone is my mother!! so I no all about this movie, and these are there are some things in the movie that are untrue for instance at Janets funeral when john made his speech everyone found it amusing and everyone was laughing I was there after all!!! and also in the scene where Janet was having a shower with Iris well that never happened she had the shower with her in fact she had the shower with Johns now wife. Ans the character of Janet was never really like that she in fact was incredibly <more>
grand and wore amazing cloths. So if you love this film then there are a few things to say about it!