Iris, based on the life of revered British writer and philosopher Iris Murdoch, is a story of unlikely yet enduring love. As a young academic, teaching philosophy at Oxford, Murdoch meets and eventually falls in love with fellow professor John Bayley, a man whose awkwardness seems in stark opposition to the spirited self-confidence of his future wife. The story unfolds as snippets of time, seen through Bayley's eyes. He recalls their first encounter over 40 years ago, activities they enjoyed doing together, and Iris' charismatic and individualistic personality. These images portray Murdoch as a vibrant young woman with great intellect and are contrasted with the novelist's later life, after the effects of Alzheimer's disease have ravaged her. Murdoch's great mind deteriorates until she is reduced to a mere vestige of her former self, unable to perform simple tasks and completely reliant on her at times frustrated yet devoted husband. Written by
Judi Dench's performance as Dame Iris Murdoch was not only flawless, pitch-perfect, and deeply moving, but it was also the performance of a lifetime. The Academy was ridiculous in overlooking her lost gazes, her subtle inflections in voice, her trembling hands, her puzzled mouth. Kate Winslet lost herself inside the young Iris, developing an entirely new set of facial expressions and voice tones. The movie accurately captures the intense passion for life and love that John Bayley describes in his novel, "Elegy For Iris." Altogether, a brilliant film, concise, humurous, terribly sad--and enhanced by four brilliant performances.
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