Iris (I) (2001)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama, Romance  |  29 March 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 14,350 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 136 user | 100 critic | 30 from

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.



(books), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 12 wins & 28 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Young John Bayley
Angela Morant ...
Janet Stone
Siobhan Hayes ...
Check-Out Girl
Young Janet Stone
Joan Bakewell ...
BBC Presenter
Nancy Carroll ...
Dr. Gudgeon
Tom Mannion ...
Young Maurice (as Sam West)


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 kem

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Her greatest talent was for life


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Official Sites:





Release Date:

29 March 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch  »

Box Office


$5,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$23,144 (USA) (14 December 2001)


$1,292,119 (USA) (7 August 2015)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Only the second film (after Titanic (1997)) to have two actors nominated for an Academy Award for playing the same role in the same movie. In both films Kate Winslet played the younger version in the dual-nominee role. See more »


When Iris and John go to visit Maurice Charlton, a reflection of the camera lighting is seen on the inside of the front door. See more »


Iris Murdoch: [pep-talking herself] Keep working, keep talking, keep the words coming.
John Bayley: Keep at it.
Iris Murdoch: I should feel like a deprived animal if I can't write. I'm like a starved dog.
John Bayley: No, keep at it. I'll keep you at it.
[turns on the desk lamp]
Iris Murdoch: I feel... as if I'm sailing into darkness.
See more »


Featured in A Look at Iris (2001) See more »


I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire
Composed by Bennie Benjamin, Eddie Durham, Sol Marcus, Edward Seiler
Performed by The Ink Spots
By kind permission of MCA
Co-publisher Chappell & Co./Warner Chappell, Cherio Corporation, Bug Music Inc, c/o Eddie Durham Swing Music,
Carlin America
See more »

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User Reviews

Good movie that dwells too much on Iris Murdoch's declining years.
17 July 2003 | by (Houston, Tx, USA, Earth) – See all my reviews

This movie has an all-star cast -- Judi Dench as Iris Murdoch, Jim Broadbent as her husband, John Bayley, Kate Winslet as the young Iris Murdoch, and Hugh Bonneville as the young John Bayley. The actors have physical appearances that makes it easy to believe we are seeing the same characters young and old. The editing is interesting, often cutting back and forth between the young and old characters within a scene.

I am not familiar with any of her works, but I have learned that Iris Murdoch was a very fine and prolific writer. She loved the language, and had a very unconventional outlook on life. This film seems to be more about her onset of Alzheimer's and her husband's trying to deal with it, rather than a story about Iris and how she came to be who she was. The story they chose not to explore I believe would have made a more interesting movie. For me Kate Winslet was the real star of the film, playing the younger Iris, and I came away wishing the film had spent much more time on her story. While the later Alzheimer years are important and interesting, too much of the film dwelled on these latter years.

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