Iris (I) (2001)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama, Romance  |  29 March 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 14,346 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.



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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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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?


Timothy West who plays "Older Maurice" and Samuel West who plays "Young Maurice" are father and son. See more »


When Iris and John are traveling to the nursing home, they are seen crossing a bridge. This bridge is Magdalene Bridge and leads to East Oxford, yet The Vale House, where Iris Murdoch spent the final years of her life, was (and still is) in South Oxford. See more »


Iris Murdoch: Education doesn't make you happy. And what is freedom? We don't become happy just because we are free, if we are. Or because we have been educated, if we have. But because education may be the means by which we realize we are happy. It opens our eyes, our ears. Tells use where delights are lurking. Convinces us that there is only one freedom of any importance whatsoever: that of the mind. And give us the assurance, the confidence, to walk the path our mind, our educated mind, offers.
See more »


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


Reggae Train
Composed by William Farley and Dennis Bovell
Courtesy of KPM Music Ltd.
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User Reviews

Great Performances, But Only a Good Movie.
26 March 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Iris" is an intense character-study that is full of bravura performances, but is also a film that struggles for greatness and never quite reaches the mark. Iris Murdoch was a great English novelist, arguably the greatest of her time, but Alzheimer's would strike the writer and eventually take away everything needed to continue her literary work. The film splits in two between Murdoch's early life (played by Oscar-nominee Kate Winslet) and her latter life (Oscar-nominee Judi Dench). What we see is Murdoch's relationship with her true love and future-husband John Bayley (Hugh Bonneville in the early sequences and Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent in the latter stages). "Iris" struggles as it goes back and forth between the early years and the latter years of Murdoch's life. This makes the film like a jumping-jack that just does not know when to quit. The film is not complimentary to Murdoch in her early years as she is shown as a teasing bi-sexual who basically uses men and women for her own personal gain. She is also shown as a somewhat cruel person who intentionally and unintentionally hurts those closest to her. Dench, on the other hand, plays Murdoch as a woman slowly losing control of those things most important to her. There are definitely flashes and similarities between the four actors who play the two characters flawlessly. Broadbent is best, but his Oscar win is not dominant by any stretch of the imagination. The film also looks somewhat cheap and rushed at times. It is just so British and the production values are not near as high as they really should have been. However, the film does show the Alzheimer's Disease in a very accurate way. Those who have seen it firsthand (I have) will find the film very difficult to get through because the research done for the movie is second-to-none. Those who are not familiar with the disease will find the film intriguing and interesting. "Iris" is a fine effort and the performances save the day on more than one occasion, but overall the film is not quite what the film-makers had hoped it would be by the final act. 4 stars out of 5.

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