HTF REVIEW: "Iris" (Highly Recommended) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Aug 16, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein


    Studio: Miramax
    Year: 2001
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 90 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)

    Her greatest talent was for life
    Where do I begin to describe the inner joy after
    watching this film?
    First, let me talk about my first interest in
    this film. It actually came from Jim Broadbent's
    energetic performance as Harold Zidler in Moulin
    Rouge. It was at the telecast of last year's
    Academy Awards that I became aware of another film
    he had starred in, called Iris (for which he
    won Best Supporting Actor). The small clip showing
    him as a kindly elderly man convinced me that this
    was a film I needed to see. Upon receiving this
    DVD I still had no idea of what his film was about
    other than the fact that the film sported a remarkable
    ensemble of actors.
    Let me say up front that Iris is a film
    not for the faint of heart. It's a highly disturbing
    look at a brilliant mind losing its stronghold thanks
    to a disease known as Alzheimers.
    While working on her newest novel, Iris Murdoch
    (Judi Dench) complains to her husband John Bayley
    (Jim Broadbent), a literary critic, that the words
    and puzzles of life are becoming more challenging to
    her mind. "I feel like I'm sailing into darkness,"
    she fearfully exclaims. It turns out she has
    Alzheimer's disease, an irreversible brain disorder
    with no known cause or cure.
    While Iris's memory begins to fade, her husband's
    mind is flooded with scenes from their past. Through
    flashbacks, we see the bubbly and youthful Iris
    (Kate Winslet) sailing down a hill on a bicycle
    with John (Hugh Bonneville)in tow. These images
    of the past showing two lovers finding each other
    are intertwined with the present view of the two
    lovers losing one another in this bittersweet
    drama of an unconventional love that lasted over
    40 years.
    This is a deeply overwhelming and moving film
    that certainly ranks as the best I have seen this
    year. Furthermore, I have yet to see a film in
    recent memory that boasts such outstanding
    performances from its entire cast. Dench, Winslet,
    Broadbent and Bonneville give such remarkable
    performances that their physical resemblances
    are uncanny - as is Martin Walsh's remarkable
    editing that so seamlessly combines the past and
    present together.
    How is the transfer?
    It's a shame that such a powerful and remarkable
    film like this only looks average on DVD.
    The transfer is plagued with a few problems,
    most noticeably the fact that it looks very dull
    and murky. There's an extreme amount of film
    grain and softness that ultimately takes away
    detail from the picture -- especially in the
    darker interior scenes. Though the day lit scenes
    fare much better, you still get the impression
    that the entire film looks...well...old. There's
    also more spackled film dirt and artifacts
    throughout this print than there should be.
    The 5.1 Digital Surround track is nothing to
    write home about. Since the film is more dialogue-
    heavy, most of the sound remains robust across
    the front channels. James Horner's score is well
    balanced across the 5 channels with the fronts
    delivering some nice heavy bass. The rears provide
    a few effects support such as a rainstorm and
    the sounds of waves crashing against the beach front.
    Special Features
    Miramax has put together a very simple DVD that
    delivers a very powerful message.
    Before starting the film, I urge everyone to play
    the Special Message from David Hyde Pierce.
    It lasts just under two minutes, but gives important
    information on what Alzheimer's disease is, how it
    can be recognized, and what you can do if someone
    you know has it. The disease currently afflicts
    4 million elderly Americans and that number will
    increase to 14 million by 2050 if something is not
    A Talent For Life: Iris is a wonderful
    featurette that so sweetly compliments this film.
    Actress Judith Dench tells us that she was a fan
    of Iris Murdoch's books and plays, and thus was
    very keen on doing the film. Actress Kate Winslet
    found her portrayal a learning experience since she
    didn't know much about the author before the film.
    Director and co-writer Richard Eyre talks of the
    importance of using flashbacks to properly convey
    Iris's memory loss. Broadbent and Bonneville talk
    about the quality and similarities of the characters
    they portray. We see some behind-the-camera
    footage of the Kate Winslet and Hugh Bonneville
    whom the producers felt were perfect clones of their
    older character counterparts. Judith Dench and
    Kate Winslet remark that this is the story of two
    curiously put together people who as one became a
    remarkable unit of support for one another.
    (length: approx. 14 minutes)
    Jim Broadbent gives a heart-felt speech during
    footage from the Alzheimer Association Honoring
    Iris and Jim Broadbent. His own Mother had
    died of Alzheimers, and Broadbent tells a loving
    story about some of the last words his Mother spoke
    regarding love. Please watch this!
    (length: approx. 6.5 minutes)
    The DVD contains English subtitles and an optional
    French track.
    Included are Sneak Peeks for a handful of
    Miramax titles including Gangs Of New York.
    Final Thoughts
    My biggest fear is that I haven't said enough
    about this film to make you rent it or buy it
    blindly. By far, Iris is a brilliant,
    humorous, and terribly sad film enhanced by four
    brilliant and powerful performances. Though not
    to be considered an audio or visual experience,
    this may be the best 90 minutes you have spent in
    front of your Home Theater in a very long time.
    Release Date: August 20, 2002
  2. Michael Dueppen

    Michael Dueppen Stunt Coordinator

    Sep 19, 2000
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    Wow, I never even heard of this movie.
    Your review definitely convinced me to pick this up sight unseen.
  3. John Stone

    John Stone Supporting Actor

    Aug 5, 2001
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    Damn it, I had this one on pre-order for next week along with several other titles. I foolishly cancelled "Iris" just before the rest of my order shipped this morning and, now that I've read this review, I REALLY wish I hadn't. I'm definitely going to pick this up with next week's batch.
    I just can't seem to cut down on my DVD purchases no matter how hard I try. [​IMG]
    Thanks (I think [​IMG]) for the great review, Ron.
  4. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

    Jul 25, 2000
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    Real Name:
    I'll give it a rental thanks to your review Ron.
    Peace Out~[​IMG]
  5. Robert_eb

    Robert_eb Supporting Actor

    Sep 14, 2001
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    I saw this when it was released theatrically and was moved beyond words. My Grandmother suffers from Alzheimer’s and I know first hand how it affects someones mind and strips away at their soul.
  6. SteveK

    SteveK Supporting Actor

    Jan 10, 2000
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    This sounds like a movie I need to avoid for a LONG time to come. My mother died of Alzheimer's in May of this year, so I suspect this movie would hit WAY too close to home for me. I have accepted her death, and since I live several hundred miles from "home", I (thankfully) missed some of the symptoms she suffered, but I don't need to go through them again vicariously.

    For those of you who haven't had a close relative diagosed with Alzheimer's, this sounds like a powerful movie. I may try to watch it a few months or years from now, when painful memories aren't quite as fresh.

    Steve K.
  7. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Oct 31, 1997
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    Subject matter like this is deeply moving but also hard to watch. I want to buy and watch it, but I'm afraid it's going to get the same treatment as SPR - which I loved in the theaters, with its realistic depictions of the horrors of war...and I haven't been able to watch it again since buying it.

    Truly a heartbreaking subject matter, though, that affects millions of us.
  8. BarryS

    BarryS Second Unit

    Aug 1, 2002
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    This film left me with a tremendous feeling of sadness. It's a lovely film, but terribly sad. The acting is excellent, as Ron said, and Jim Broadbent definitely deserved his Oscar.
    If I had any complaints about the film, I guess I would have to say that it's too short. As Roger Ebert states in his review, we see Iris' early life as well as the latter years, but we see very little of the middle. We don't quite get enough of an idea of her brilliant mind before it is taken away. I think the film should have been lengthened by about 20 minutes or so to better explore Iris' life before the disease sets in.
    Even as it is, however, Iris is a very moving, beautiful film with many wonderful performances. Solid [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of 4.
  9. PatrickM

    PatrickM Screenwriter

    Aug 10, 2000
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    Well, another one you've talked me into buying Ron. Looks like an excellent film.

  10. Gary_Keno*

    Gary_Keno* Auditioning

    Sep 19, 2002
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    I Haven't seen Iris as yet nor have the dvd, but will have
    shortly- My very close "aunt" died of this disease and it
    was very sad to see her in her last few years- so I know it
    Must be a very sad movie experience-

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