Directed by Richard Eyre.
Written by Richard Eyre and Charles Wood.
Starring Judi Dench, Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 2/21/02
Seeing that "Iris" garnered three acting
nominations for the upcoming Oscars, I thought it wise to check this
thing out in its re-release at the local arthouse movie theater.
My question with films like these is always
the same: all of the actors in the film got nominated...but why
isn't the FILM nominated for much? Similar to "Leaving Las Vegas"
and "Affliction" in recent years, "Iris" features outstanding
performances by Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent and Kate Winslet, but the
film isn't nearly as good as the acting. Sadly, most of this has to
do with the way director Richard Eyre cuts between the young Iris
Murdoch (Winslet) and the Alzheimer's-afflicted older Iris (Dench);
at a trim 90 minutes, that doesn't leave much room for story
development, so all we get are two distinct sets of scenes:
Younger Iris loves sex, skinny dipping and
talking about a book that she has just finished writing. She seems
to love a goofy-looking, stuttering genius named John (Hugh
Bonneville), but to show her love, she rides bikes with him, and
kisses his arm. Oh, and she cheats on him like nobody's business.
Older Iris starts out being considered as
England's greatest contemporary writer...in the first scene of the
film. In the following four scenes, she goes from genius, to a
woman who can't spell the word "puzzle", to a woman who forgets
where she is, to a woman that may be out-and-out insane.
And, all of that comes in the first 45
The progression of these characters leaves
much to be desired, but that doesn't stop the performers from acting
their hearts out. The best of the bunch is clearly Broadbent ("Topsy-Turvy",
"Moulin Rouge"), who plays Iris' husband as part comedian, part
overprotective father and he is a joy to watch. Both my friend
Melissa Kern and I both thought that Winslet seemed to earn her
Oscar nod by showing her breasts way too much in this film; I
actually wanted the filmmakers to stop showing them by the end of
this thing. And, Dench--what can be said? She shows up on a film
set, and unless it is a James Bond film, she gets nominated. She is
her normal self here, but for whatever reason, she got nominated
again for an Oscar. She has been far better in other works, but she
DOES get the audience to tear up near the end and Kern was
near-bawling by the time the credits rolled.
Bring some Kleenex, especially if you like
your chick flicks emotional. Too bad the film isn't as good as the
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard