Through the Iris and into the Mind
As a young Oxford undergraduate John Bayley (Hugh Bonneville) finds himself falling for the charismatic Iris Murdoch (Kate Winslet) who despite his shyness returns his affections. So starts a relationship which lasts many a decade with various ups and downs a long the way as Iris becomes successful as a novelist and philosopher. But after a life of ups and downs the now much older John (Jim Broadbent) and Iris (Judi Dench) become aware that she is suffering an illness, Alzheimer's disease, which threatens to steal from her the very thing which makes her who she is.
I only watched part of "Iris". That's not what you want to read from a reviewer and it isn't in fact true. I watched the whole of "Iris" but as I'm not a huge fan of literature I had never heard of Iris Murdoch before and as such the part I didn't watch or the part which didn't work for me like it probably did for others was seeing the young Iris go from a woman with certain views evolve into the popular author she became. I am sure for some who enjoyed her novels will find this side of the movie fascinating.
But for me the fascinating side of "Iris" is the handling of Iris and John's story as she is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Seeing all the little traits from Iris repeating herself to not recognizing others and words escaping her as well as the looking vacantly in to the distance is not just perfect but also heartbreaking. It is so perfectly portrayed that "Iris" is another movie which people should watch so they can become aware of aspects of Alzheimer's Disease, not just as in the traits but also how it affects those close to the person diagnosed as the issue of dependency comes in to play leading to stress.
There is though a further side to "Iris" and that is a love story of a young, awkward man who fell for a free spirited young woman and whilst very different seemed to balance each other out. We see how as a young man John was confronted by Iris's free spirited ways from swimming naked in the river to her intimacy with a female friend. But we see how his patience and love of Iris never faded even if things she did caused him to become exasperated with her.
What this all boils down to is that "Iris" is a fabulous movie and it doesn't matter if you have never heard of Iris Murdoch before. As an examination of Alzheimer's disease, the way it effects the individual and those close to them is absolutely spot on with first rate acting through out.