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The film tells the story of the British novelist and phlisopher Iris Murdoch. Alternating scenes from the young Iris (Kate Winslet) and the old (Judi Dench) the film shows the most important periods of her relationship with the love of her life John Bayley ( Hugh Bonneville and Jim Broadbent). So we see when they first met and how they develop such a relarionship founded on love, friendship and mutual admiration. And we also see their last days, when the desease dominates Iris' mind.
The cast is simply a wonderful. No actor is in the wrong place and the four central actors who plays the couple in different times of their lives are stunning. Kate Winslet once more is brilliant as the young Iris who is beautiful inteligente and fierce. Judi Dench as the older Iris is centred and calm, but still brilliant and the moments when the diseades dominates her mind she is perfect. Jim Broadbent really deserved his Oscar as Iris soul mate. He is the one who helps her to fight the disease, despite the fact it is a lost battle -- as all doctors say.
The direction is simple and quite effective. The screenplay may sound confusing at first, but it is not. The writer meant to show how close facts that happen to the young Iris to the old one are.
Love can not cure anything, but with this movie we see how it helps when hard times come. Iris and John had only each other to support, and they did so until the last minute. Another thing, after seeing the movie, I'm feeling very temptead to read some of Iris' novels.
Murdoch [1919-1999] wrote nearly thirty novels, most of which deal with the complexities and mysteries of human behavior. She also taught philosophy. She deeply loved her husband of forty years, John Bayley, a renowned literary critic. Her other great love was words. To watch her slowly losing contact with all she loved [and, thus, with all she was] is a deeply touching experience, though the movie can only begin to describe the real-life events.
Iris is portrayed as a young woman by Kate Winslet. Judi Dench plays the older Iris. Young John is Hugh Bonneville, old John is Jim Broadbent, who won and Oscar for his performance. The casting is perfect, not only because the actors are great ones, but also because they blend perfectly as the movie switches back and forth between the present and the past.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive biography. It touches on only a few highlights, which are meant to contrast the vibrantly alive and productive young Iris with the fragile and lost Iris at the end of her life. It is done with great compassion, and the result is perhaps the best illustration of the horror of Alzheimer�s ever put on film.
Murdoch died in 1999 of Alzheimer's Disease, and IRIS is a poignant and sad chronicle of her descent into mental darkness. (Also currently in theaters is the magnificent film A BEAUTIFUL MIND, starring Russell Crowe, which showcases schizophrenia. It's been a good year for mental maladies.) The tragedy of the IRIS story is emphasized by the heavy use of flashbacks, in which a young and free-spirited Murdoch, played effectively by Kate Winslet, is compared to the aging and deteriorating version portrayed by Dame Judi. Indeed, one of the most notable aspects of the production is the casting, which impressively manages to present to the audience both "young" and "old" versions of both Murdoch and her husband, John Bayley, that actually resemble each other. (I admit, a lot of the credit must likely go to the studio's Makeup Department, but still ...) The "young" Bayley is depicted by Hugh Bonneville, and the "old" version by Jim Broadbent. Bonneville is absolutely superb - a Best Supporting Actor Oscar is due - as the stammering, awkward, virginal and painfully shy 29-year old geek that wins the heart of young Iris. (This provides evidence, I guess, that even the Nerdy Guy sometimes get the Most Popular Girl.)
In an earlier review of 2001's THE SHIPPING NEWS, I remarked that Dench's competent performance in that film wasn't anything exceptional considering her great talent.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A thoughtful, provocative film about the perils of aging. Judi Dench is outstanding.Published 58 minutes ago by Paul de Temple
Fascinating biography and another fine performance by Judi Dench.Published 6 hours ago by Skierracer
Timeless subject matter for anyone dealing with a loved one's dementia or alzheimer's.Published 7 hours ago by vivacious vicki
While Judi Dench is always a marvelous performer, this movie was very depressing.Published 1 day ago by the melons
Loved it. Lots to think about if you are aging or know others who are dealing with this. Makes you look at your future.Published 1 day ago by Diane Browning
Not a feel-good movie but one that is realistic and makes a person think. Excellently done.Published 1 day ago by Barbara J Abel
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