Rated NR

I know what you’re thinking: not another movie about a famous philosopher! But wait, this one is considerably wittier than Malebranche and the Temple of Evil, it has a lot more nudity than Leibniz’s Big Score and it’s got much better acting than the execrable Schopenhauer! Schopenhauer! Schopenhauer! Unfortunately, this story about Dame Iris Murdoch, the best-selling novelist and respected ethicist, runs out of steam about half-way through. The problem is that it focuses on Murdoch’s descent into Alzheimer’s, and after 40 minutes her character completely vanishes into the disease. After that, Judi Dench, in the title role, has little to do but put on one of those performances that American actors stoop to when they want an Academy Award. This is especially sad since the dialogue in the film is so good, and Dench is reduced to silence in the latter half. Still, up to the mid-point Iris is excellent, and the performances of Kate Winslet as the young Iris, Jim Broadbent as Iris’s husband John Bayley, and especially the fabulous Hugh Bonneville as the young John Bayley make it worth watching.

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