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Iris (2001)

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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.

Director:

Richard Eyre

Writers:

John Bayley (books), Richard Eyre (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 31 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kate Winslet ... Young Iris Murdoch
Hugh Bonneville ... Young John Bayley
Judi Dench ... Iris Murdoch
Jim Broadbent ... John Bayley
Eleanor Bron ... Principal
Angela Morant ... Hostess
Penelope Wilton ... Janet Stone
Siobhan Hayes ... Check-Out Girl
Juliet Aubrey ... Young Janet Stone
Joan Bakewell Joan Bakewell ... BBC Presenter
Nancy Carroll ... BBC PA
Kris Marshall ... Dr. Gudgeon
Tom Mannion Tom Mannion ... Neurologist
Derek Hutchinson ... Postman
Samuel West ... Young Maurice (as Sam West)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Her greatest talent was for life


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 March 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$23,144, 16 December 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,292,119, 9 August 2015
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

2002 Academy Awards host Whoopi Goldberg humorously referred during the ceremony that Iris (2001) "[was] a movie that even Ingmar Bergman found depressing". See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Young John Bayley: I could get in trouble, having women in my room.
Young Iris Murdoch: I wouldn't say you'd had me, just yet.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Judi Dench talks to Richard Eyre (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

The Lark in the Clear Air
Music: Traditional tune: Caisleán U, Néill
Lyrics by Samuel Ferguson (about 1850)
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User Reviews

Very difficult to put a life on screen but works very well as a look at Alzheimers
21 December 2003 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Iris Murdock was an author and a shining light within the literary community in England. As an older woman she holds the same enthusiasm but is gradually being given over to the effects of Alzheimers. Her husband, John, tries to cope watching his wife slip away while he remembers how things were when they were young and falling in love.

I knew of this film due to Broadbent rightly taking the Oscar for it (with an exclamation of `stone the crows!') but I noticed it wasn't really in the running for anything else and never got round to seeing it. Seeing it now I am in two minds as to whether it works or not - I think it depends on what you take the film's aim to be. As a story about Iris herself I didn't think it really worked. It told me very little about her and didn't give me much to work with in regards her character or her relations when she was younger. We are given images and scenes from Iris and John's youth but I never felt that I ever really connected with who they were at that young age. The stuff with them as an elderly couple works well but again it could have been any elderly couple and it made no difference to me that Iris was a writer or any woman.

What works excellent is the portrait of an elderly couple struggling with the effects of Alzheimer's on their lives - hers as a sufferer and his as one watching his wife vanish day by day. I was very moved by all of that side of the film and found some of it very hard to watch. Most of this is due to Broadbent and it is this that he won his Oscar for. I felt his pain throughout the film and it was intense considering what a normal cheerful old man he played. Dench is excellent and her portrayal of Iris is very strong in terms of being an Alzheimers sufferer but not so much as a character I'm meant to learn about. The playing of both Winslet and Bonneville is good but I came away with the feeling that they were just assigned to do impressions of their senior co-stars; they don't manage to shed light on the past very much but they are good background.

Overall this film is not great if you are expecting to learn about Iris the author. However a film about Alzheimers it excels and is well worth seeing. Broadbent is wonderful and deserved his Oscar - his pain and his loss is so very real throughout the film that it is impossible not to feel something even if the film doesn't manage to do great development with the characters.


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