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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
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Good movie that dwells too much on Iris Murdoch's declining years.
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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