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By Luisa F. Ribeiro | Posted

Based on John Bayley's two memoirs of his wife, the renowned British novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch, Iris captures the sheer heartbreak of watching a penetrating mind and personality dissolve under the effects of Alzheimer's Disease but fails to capture the essence of its central character. Powerhouse actresses Kate Winslet and Judi Dench as the younger and older Iris go a long way toward bringing to life the author, lecturer, intellectual, and vibrant woman in love with words and the possibilities of weaving them into a tapestry of profound meaning. But it's not long before things get bogged down. The section with the young Iris give no sense as to what she saw in the fuddy-duddy young Bayley (Hugh Bonneville), and director/co-writer Richard Eyre offers but a tantalizing morsel of Murdoch in her prime before plunging the viewer into a chronicle of debilitating disease and a marriage tested to its core. There are a few glimpses of the gently witty and dedicated married relationship of the mature (and still healthy) Iris and Bayley (the ever-versatile Jim Broadbent), but overall the Murdoch remains memorable more as a heartbreaking victim of Alzheimer's than for her far more impressive intellectual legacy. And that's a tragedy indeed.

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