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Iris (2001)

  Directed by: Richard Eyre
Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Jim Broadbent, Judi Dench, Kate Winslet
Links: Iris on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy the Book
Genre: Based on True Story

This movie gets: 9.00 (2 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 14th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

"Could get tears from a rock" - a review by mino

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. A grand-sounding name. A name worthy of a group of wise folk who are well-qualified to judge fine works of art in the media of film. A name which conjures up images of exacting pursuit of excellence.

So it's a pity that they're such a bunch of dickheads.

I will freely confess that the Academy is one of the (many) organisations that I love to hate. From Marisa Tomei to Shakespeare In Love, they have made no small number of mistakes. And Iris has a part to play in one of the biggest.

Now, before I proceed: I have not seen Denzel Washington's performance in Training Day. Perhaps he deserved the Best Actor gong this year. Frankly, on form, I doubt it. The point is, though, that the field he was competing against wasn't the best. Because if Jim Broadbent's performance in Iris belonged in the 'Best Supporting Actor' category, I'm Catherine the Great. Jim Broadbent was, by anyone's definition (except those decrepit old fossils at the Academy), a leading role. How on earth do you spend three-quarters of the movie on screen, as pretty much the focus of the movie, and get called 'supporting'? Fah. You don't, that's how. What a bloody gyp.

But that's kind of irrelevant. I'm supposed to be reviewing Iris, not providing an Oscar recap. And let's face it, Iris is a corker of a movie. It is one of the most powerfully-acted, emotional movies I can remember seeing: I certainly had to work hard to hold myself together, or this hard-hearted reviewer would have collapsed on the floor of the cinema blubbering like Gwyneth Paltrow at an onion-choppin' party.

Iris is the true story of poet Iris Murdoch's battle with Alzheimer's disease (and, equally importantly, its impact on her husband, John Bayley). The narrative is split between images of Iris and John as a young couple (played by Kate Winslet and Hugh Bonneville) and later as an older pair battling the disease (Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent).

Much more screen time is given (and fittingly so) to the older Iris & John; and it is Dench and Broadbent who really make this movie come alive. Their performances are absolutely magic. Dench is absolutely fantastic as the at-first 'addled', then eventually dementia-stricken, Murdoch. She manages to convey beautifully the slow decline of Murdoch: someone who very occasionally has terrifying flashes of what she is becoming, and hates it, but most of the time is just a little kid who needs looking after.

But for all the brilliance of Dench's performance, Iris really is Broadbent's film. The frustrated, angry, sad, but ultimately adoring husband is one of the most sympathetic characters I've ever seen in a film, and wonderfully portrayed. Broadbent has one of the most impressive ranges of any actor alive, and for him not be given his proper dues for Iris is a bloody disgrace.

If you haven't seen Iris yet, do it now. And bring a Kleenex.

mino gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review last updated on Mon 27 May 2002

Movie review statistics

Ratings given without reviews:

Number of reviews: 1
Number of ratings: 2
Average rating: 9.00
Lowest rating: 9 (by pearly, mino)
Highest rating: 9 (by pearly, mino)
 
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Reader comments

  1. One of the most moving film I have ever seen. I couldn't help but cry at the decline of a beautiful mind.

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from ex-Hegelian on Fri 31 Mar 2006 12:24 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.00 (1 rating)

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