4.3 3
Director: Richard Eyre

Cast: Judi Dench, Kate Winslet, Hugh Bonneville


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Based on a pair of memoirs by her husband John Bayley, this biographical portrait of writer Iris Murdoch stars both Judi Dench and Kate Winslet as the philosophical author at different stages of her life. When the young Iris (Winslet) meets fellow student Bayley (Hugh Bonneville) at Oxford, he's a naïve virgin easily flummoxed by her libertine spirit, arch personality…  See more details below


Based on a pair of memoirs by her husband John Bayley, this biographical portrait of writer Iris Murdoch stars both Judi Dench and Kate Winslet as the philosophical author at different stages of her life. When the young Iris (Winslet) meets fellow student Bayley (Hugh Bonneville) at Oxford, he's a naïve virgin easily flummoxed by her libertine spirit, arch personality, and obvious artistic talent. Decades later, little has changed as the couple (now played by Dench and Jim Broadbent) keeps house, with John doting on his more famous wife. When Iris begins experiencing forgetfulness and dementia, however, the ever-doltish but devoted John struggles with hopelessness and frustration to become her caretaker, as his wife's mind deteriorates from the ravages of Alzheimer's disease. Iris earned a slew of Supporting Actor awards for Broadbent, including recognition from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and National Board of Review.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
The marvelous Judi Dench reveals her versatility yet again, this time by conveying the heartbreaking sense of frustration that accompanies the dementia induced by Alzheimer’s disease. She’s totally convincing as British philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch, a brilliant woman whose diminishing mental acuity gradually robs her of everything she once held dear. Lovingly attended to by her devoted husband, literary critic John Bayley (Jim Broadbent), Iris finds solace in the gradually receding memories of their days together as students. In extensive flashback sequences, Kate Winslet and Hugh Bonneville play the couple as adventurous 20-somethings, with Bonneville’s uncanny resemblance to Broadbent helping to sustain the illusion. Broadbent's Oscar-winning performance is a wonder of subtlety, as he depicts Bayley's pain at witnessing his formidable companion's long and painful descent. Director Richard Eyre (The Ploughman’s Lunch) coaxes a subtle, carefully calibrated performance from Dench, who is both wistfully elegiac and passionately defiant, according to the script’s demands. A touching love story at heart, Iris never succumbs to despair; instead, this movie celebrates life while acknowledging its fragility.
All Movie Guide - Richie Unterberger
Richard Eyre's film is a straightforward drama of both the final and early courtship stages of the marriage between famed British novelist and intellectual Iris Murdoch and John Bayley. The prime, mildly unusual element, perhaps, is the alternation between two time periods, the principal scenes showing their relationship in old age as Murdoch is ravaged by Alzheimer's disease, the rest shown in flashbacks to the days in which they first met and their romance flowered. Since it's cinematically conventional, if highly accomplished, the film relies upon its acting to lift it above the ordinary, and on that count it does deliver. Jim Broadbent was justly acclaimed for his portrayal of the older Bayley, befuddled and taxed by his wife's decline, occasionally even prone to anger, but never flagging in his love, even when her verbal coherence has all but disappeared. Just as good, however, are the performances by Judi Dench as the older Murdoch (convincingly changing from esteemed, erudite literary icon to the nearly helpless and witless) and Hugh Bonneville as the stuttering, inexperienced younger Bayley, his reticence overcome by his infatuation with Murdoch. This isn't the place to learn much about Murdoch's writing; the narratives occur in the periods around the publication of her first and last books, with nothing on the intervening decades. There are her many books for that if you want to investigate further, of course, and Iris is not so much a docudrama of a life as a sympathetic but realistic look at the final stages of a marriage ended by tragic illness, as well as the struggle for dignity in the face of inevitable loss and death.
Los Angeles Times
It's not only that Murdoch and Bayley had just that kind of kinship over the span of a 40-plus year marriage, it's that the actors manage an identically close and intimate relationship both to each other and to the characters they play. Kenneth Turan
New York Post
Not just a fitting document of a life brilliantly lived but a vibrant, almost palpitating piece of cinema. Ann Hornaday
New York Observer
Kate Winslet as the younger Iris Murdoch and Judi Dench as the older version manage to bring the literary lioness to vibrant life. Andrew Sarris

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Walt Disney Video

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Judi Dench Iris Murdoch
Kate Winslet Young Iris Murdoch
Hugh Bonneville Young John Bayley
Jim Broadbent John Bayley
Penelope Wilton Janet Stone
Juliet Aubrey Younger Janet
Samuel West Young Maurice
Timothy West Old Maurice
Eleanor Bron College Principal
Joan Bakewell TV Presenter
Kris Marshall Dr. Gudeon
Tom Mannion Neurologist
Derek Hutchinson Postman
Juliet Howland Emma Stone
Saira Todd Phillida Stone
Emma Handy Policewoman
Matilda Allsopp Little Stone
Charlotte Arkwright Young Phillida Stone
Harriet Arkwright Young Emma Stone
Nancy Carroll BBC PA
Steve Edis Pianist
Siobhan Hayes Check-out girl
Stephen Marcus Taxi Driver
Pauline McGlynn Maureen

Technical Credits
Richard Eyre Director,Screenwriter
Kate Benton Makeup
Paul Bond Camera Operator
Julie Dartnell Makeup
Guy East Executive Producer
Trisha Edwards Set Decoration/Design
Robert Fox Producer
Celestia Fox Casting
Jane Gibson Choreography
Martin Harrison Asst. Director
Carly Harrop Stunts
Tom Hedley Executive Producer
James Horner Score Composer
Gemma Jackson Production Designer
Buxton Jayne Makeup
Antonia Kruger Makeup
Mill Special Effects
Lee Millhan Stunts
Anthony Minghella Executive Producer
Julyce Monbleaux Musical Direction/Supervision
Ruth Myers Costumes/Costume Designer
Peter Notley Special Effects Supervisor
Sydney Pollack Executive Producer
Ti Porter Production Manager
Roger Pratt Cinematographer
Scott Rudin Producer
Tom Sayers Sound Editor
Lesley Smith Makeup
Gillian Elisa Thomas Makeup
David M. Thompson Executive Producer
Jane Walker Makeup
Martin Walsh Editor
David Ware Stunts
David Warren Art Director
Harvey Weinstein Executive Producer
Lisa Westcott Makeup
Charles Wood Screenwriter

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Iris 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What i love most about IRIS is that there is nothing predictable about the film. it isn't from a formulaic script and it isn't a standard film in any way. it is simply about these two people and what they give eachother. their love is so believable because of this. brilliant, oscar worthy acting by all players (dench, winslet, broadbent, and bonneville) IRIS is not only the best love story in years, but it is one of the best films of 2001. also noteable is the unique score by james horner and masterfull editing and direction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago