Directed by Richard Eyre
Starring: Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent, Kate Winslet, Hugh Bonneville.
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality/nudity and some language.

Review by Matt Heffernan <>
March 14, 2002

After winning all sorts of awards, Iris is finally getting shown in America. This film from director Richard Eyre depicts the life of British literary icon Iris Murdoch during two periods.

The first period is the courtship between Murdoch (Kate Winslet) and her eventual husband John Bayley (Hugh Bonneville). At this time, Murdoch's first novel is awaiting publication and Bayley starts to learn about her mysterious "secret life".

The second period is the end of Murdoch's life. After many years of marriage, Bayley (Jim Broadbent) now depends on Murdoch (Judi Dench) to do everything from cleaning the house to grocery shopping, despite the fact that she is a prolific novelist. When Murdoch starts exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease, Bayley is left helpless, unable to take care of either of them or even to speak with his once-brilliant wife.

Both of these periods are presented simultaneously, much like The Godfather, Part II, except that the chronology of the flashback scenes isn't always linear. Two characters are expertly portrayed by four actors, and it's no wonder that three of them are nominated for Academy Awards.

The film is mostly a showcase for these performances, as the structure and pace of the film never really add up to something greater. This approach of spicing up a biopic is well-intentioned, but it would have definitely been better as a two-part miniseries. Not only would it give the two pairs their own films, it would place Eyre in more familiar territory.

I do commend him on this effort and I hope that he continues trying to make a great feature film.

For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Iris (2001)

Here's some merchandise for sale at
Elegy for Iris, by John Bayley -- Hardcover
Elegy for Iris, by John Bayley -- Paperback
Elegy for Iris, by John Bayley -- Audio Cassette (read by David Case)
Iris: Soundtrack -- Compact Disc Home
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Review © 2002 Matt Heffernan