***Official "IRIS" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Tom-G, Feb 16, 2002.

  1. Tom-G

    Tom-G Screenwriter

    Mar 31, 2000
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    I didn't even know of this movie until the Oscar nominations were announced. It seems as if this film just came out of nowhere, but I was fortunate enough to see the film last night.
    Iris tells the story of an aged couple - Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley. Iris is an accomplished writer and author and in an unfortunate turn, is afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. At one point in the film, she appropriately poses the question that if one loses one's mind, how does one know?
    The film's emotional power comes from the juxtaposition of the early days of the couple's relationship. Youg Iris is played by Kate Winslet and the flashback scenes focus on the development of John and Iris' relationship. Happier times of the early days are contrasted with darker, sadder times - times dealing with loss of memory and what once was. Jim Broadbent gives a spectacular performance as the man who is struggling to do all he can to help his wife.
    All three actors who were nominated from this film (Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent and Kate Winslet) turn in some very fine performances. Their nominations were well deserved.
    Iris is somewhat of a downer of a film, but it's stark realities are what drives this movie. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] (out of four)
  2. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

    Jun 3, 1999
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    This thread is now designated the Official Review Thread for "Iris".
    Comments that are NOT review oriented may be deleted without warning.
    Thank you.
  3. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

    Jun 30, 1997
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    Um, Jason, I'm confused by your post... Is this the Review or Discussion thread?
    Well, I'll review and discuss. [​IMG]
    Anthony Minghella's name in the opening credits as a producer (though not director) should have been a warning to me. Many will disagree, but I've always found he has a knack for making 2.5 hours seem like 7. Iris is Minghella-lite; it's about 1.75 hours, but seems like three.
    The cast itself makes the movie worth seeing, especially if you're trying to cross lines off the Oscar ballot. Jim Broadbent is great as usual, and Judi Dench gives a really selfless performance as the title character. The actors playing the two characters in their younger days don't measure up, though Kate Winslet at least gets to appear multifaceted.
    The film's greatest flaw - and it's darn near fatal - is that it never allows us to really know Iris Murdoch. We only get the faintest glimpse of Judi Dench playing her before Alzheimer's begins to deconstruct her mind, and young Iris seems excessively mysterious. We see a set of personality traits, but they never add up to a complete personality. We only get to know Iris based on her interactions with John Bayley, her suitor (Hugh Bonneville) and later husband (Broadbent). It gives us an incomplete picture of the character, and we barely get a glimpse of the sharp intelligence that makes her later descent into Alzheimer's so much more tragic. We never get a true feel for what is being lost.
    (Also, from the descriptions in the movie, Bayley must actually be much more intelligent than he's presented)
    The film's second-greatest flaw is its willingness to wallow in misery. I'm reminded of Edges Of The Lord, another movie (actually on my botton 10 list for '01) that is well-produced and -performed, but is so intent on serving up a parade of suffering and woe that I just wanted to leave the theater, and probably would have hit stop on midway through if I saw it on video. Is a scene of Iris wetting herself, for instance, really necessary? It's the sort of thing that pushes an audience from squirming, but being affected, to wondering why they spent good money and leisure time on this film. It's distracting, especially when you've already got the point.
    Bottom line, the two lead performances are good - I might even be willing to support Broadbent over Kingsley at the Oscars based on Iris and Moulin Rouge combined - but the movie isn't really one I'd recommend. [​IMG][​IMG]¼
  4. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent and Kate Winslet can only do so much with a material that is so average, if that. Alzheimer’s is a truly sad and crippling condition. Iris would be the latest in a string of other films that would tackle this subject matter and how it affects the victim’s loved ones. I was therefore surprised that a film about the life of a novelist and philosopher would focus more about this stage of her life rather than those that are more inspiring and admirable.
    It is surprising because the film does not offer anything new about the Alzheimer’s condition nor is Iris Murdoch’s battle with the disease an especially unique one. Those who know very little of Iris Murdoch will walk away from this film feeling less enlightened or educated about this gifted woman’s life.
    There is a better part of Iris Murdoch’s life that is worth telling. In my judgment, the part of her life that the film focused on is not one of them. By doing so, the film becomes anything but special, unique or personal.
    Iris rates [​IMG] [​IMG] (out of four).
  5. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

    Jun 27, 1999
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    Don't say I didn't warn you Edwin. [​IMG]
    I found the film choppy, and I'd agree with Jason that we never really get to know the characters. Iris is the wild, freespirited intellectual while John is the proper, stuttering man who moons over her. I would have preferred a more linear story rather than the constant crosscutting between them as young and old.
    The only time I thought the film displayed genuine emotion was when the older John expresses his anger at Iris. For once we get to see how their differences have taken a toll on him.

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