In 1929 French Indochina, a French teenage girl embarks on a reckless and forbidden romance with a wealthy, older Chinese man, each knowing that knowledge of their affair will bring drastic consequences to each other.
Tony Leung Ka Fai,
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
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 »
Young Iris Murdoch:
Yes, of course, there's something fishy about describing people's feelings. You try hard to be accurate, but as soon as you start to define such and such a feeling, language lets you down. It's really a machine for making falsehoods. When we really speak the truth, words are insufficient. Almost everything except things like "pass the gravy" is a lie of a sort. And that being the case, I shall shut up. Oh, and... pass the gravy.
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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.
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