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Iris (Iris: A memoir of Iris Murdoch)

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Movie propaganda

Her greatest talent was for life.

The tender and extraordinary story of the enduring love between the novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch (Kate Winslet and Judi Dench) and her husband John Bayley (Hugh Bonneville and Jim Broadbent), from the romance of their early days at Oxford in the 1950s to her untimely death in 1999.

Persons of interest

  • Kate Winslet .... young Iris Murdoch
  • Judi Dench .... Iris Murdoch
  • Hugh Bonneville .... young John Bayley
  • Jim Broadbent .... John Bayley
  • Juliet Aubrey .... young Janet Stone
  • Penelope Wilton .... Janet Stone
  • Charlotte Arkwright .... young Phillida Stone
  • Saira Todd .... Phillida Stone
  • Harriet Arkwright .... young Emma Stone
  • Juliet Howland .... Emma Stone
  • Samuel West .... young Maurice
  • John Bayley .... Author: Elegy for Iris
  • Charles Wood .... Screenwriter
  • Richard Eyre .... Screenwriter
  • Richard Eyre .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Iris is less about Iris Murdoch (and her relationship with John Bayley) and more about the debilitating effect of Alzheimer's Disease. That the infected person is a genius-level wordsmith adds poignancy; watching her brain disintegrate is horrible. This is not a fun film.

Judi Dench is perfect as the older Iris: at first charming, witty and fiercely intelligent, then piece by piece the mind falls away until Iris is little more than an ambulatory vegetable. You can see the light in her eyes fading, dimming until finally it is extinguished completely. Judi is a living treasure. Kate Winslet does an impeccable version of the younger Iris - headstrong, vital, untamed - and even manages to sound like a young Judi.

The John Bayleys are equally impressive as moths drawn to Iris's brilliant flame. Their performances are so well tuned that I was often confused about which actor was on screen.

What I didn't like about Iris was that I came away thinking that I'd experienced a deeply disturbing drama but knowing very little about the people who were in it. Iris was a free spirit who wrote lots of books longhand, got sick and died. John was truly, madly, deeply in love with her and wrote books on a typewriter. They lived in England. For a biographical picture that's just not enough information, hence the low score. It isn't a bad film, it's a bad biography.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Disc: Single side, single layer
  • Features:
    • Featurettes:
      • All-new, exclusive animated short film, Mike's new car (also on video)
      • For the birds - 2001 Academy Award®-Winner for best animated short film
      • Out-takes and Company Play
    • Trailers: Theatrical
  • Languages: English
  • Picture: Widescreen 1.33:1
  • Subtitles: English

Security censorship classification

MA 15+ (Adult themes, medium level sex scenes, low level coarse language)

Surveillance time

90 minutes (1:30 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 21 February 2002
DVD rental: 18 September 2002
VHS rental: 18 September 2002
DVD retail: 29 January 2003
VHS retail: 29 January 2003

Cinema surveillance images

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