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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 »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 30 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Young John Bayley
Janet Stone
Siobhan Hayes ...
Check-Out Girl
Young Janet Stone
Joan Bakewell ...
BBC Presenter
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


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



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?


This film also marks the second time that Judi Dench, and another actress playing the same part, have both been nominated for an Oscar. Previously, Dench won Best Supporting Actress for playing Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love (1998), the same year that Cate Blanchett was nominated for playing the part in Elizabeth (1998). See more »


When John gets his coat caught against the chair at the pub, a boom mic can be seen in the mirror behind him. See more »


John Bayley: [talking in front of Iris] Horrible thing, to stand with your toes at the edge of the precipice. You can say anything you like, as long as you make it sound like it was a joke.
Janet Stone: Now don't, John, it's cruel.
John Bayley: No, you're wrong, it's not cruel. It's nothing. I mean, it's not understood. She's in her own world now. Perhaps it's what she always wanted.
Janet Stone: [smiles dotingly at Iris]
See more »


Referenced in The 85th Annual Academy Awards (2013) See more »


Cerisier rose et pommier blanc
Music by Louiguy
Lyrics by Jacques Larue
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User Reviews


This episodic story of Iris Murdoch, best selling novelist, and her husband John Bayley, is not for the faint-hearted. There are no illusions here, and those that seem to exist are shattered by grim reality.

The film pulls no punches, showing Iris as a self-absorbed, stream-of-consciousness woman who becomes ill with Alzheimer's disease. Her husband, in sickness and in health, seems to always be a step behind her. However, he is enthralled with her - totally devoted and ultimately alone.

Yet, this portrait is beautiful and episodic, filled with symbolism, wonderful flashbacks, and the threads of a relationship built and undone. The four leads are just wonderful, with Jim Broadbent deservedly receiving an Oscar for his performance. Superb cinematography, editing, and direction support the actors and the great script.

Highly recommended. I give it 9 out of 10.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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