This film is based on Elegy for Iris literary critic John Bayley's biography of his late wife the brilliant writer and philosopher Iris Murdoch. Iris is unconventional in the sense that it does not adhere to a structured plot or story line but instead focuses on their relationship by flashing back and forth between the present and 40 years ago when the two first met. In the sequences taking place in the past Kate Winslet plays a young confident Murdoch in her formative years a woman revered by men and openly bisexual. Hugh Bonneville plays the young and apprehensive Bayley hopelessly pursuing her. The present however reveals a drastic role reversal for the couple: We see Murdoch in her 70s as played by Judi Dench and witness her descent into Alzheimer's disease and the toll it takes on her husband played by Jim Broadbent. The once-subservient husband has been thrust into a caretaker position and painfully tries to cope with his beloved wife's illness and loss of sanity.
Dench deservedly received a best actress Oscar nomination for the fabulous job she does as the older Murdoch. She is convincing as a brilliant thinker and even more believable as her condition worsens--check out the heartbreaking scene when Bayley locks himself in the study to get away from her irrational behavior and she scratches the windowpane on the glass door like a cat while looking at her husband with utter helplessness. Dench conveys her character's vulnerability in a single glance. As an older Bayley Broadbent is as impressive as Dench especially as he struggles to be assertive yet avoid being too harsh. Bonneville as a young Bayley could almost be Broadbent's clone. At first glance he looks like the same actor made to look older through some sort of makeup or special effects wizardry. Bonneville skillfully hatches the young Bayley's traits and tics later perfected by Broadbent. Winslet also Oscar-nominated for Iris (in the supporting actress category) well plays Murdoch's early audacity and boldness.
Director Richard Eyre does a beautiful and seamless job flowing from the past to the present throughout the film. Although the film barely delves into Murdoch's work the importance of her writing is established with scenes from a BBC interview or a luncheon given in her honor. Eyre also does an exceptional job conveying Bayley's hopeless predicament: he fusses over Murdoch like an overprotective parent intermittently lashing out at her only to apologize sobbing afterward for having done so. It's sweet and pitiful especially since Bayley believes that the Iris he fell in love with is still in there somewhere. But while the film is visually exquisite and convincing the subject matter is not necessarily entertaining. We know Murdoch will eventually succumb to her illness but it's even more dreadful to have to watch every agonizing step. By the time Murdoch was reduced to playing in the dirt and watching Teletubbies I found myself wondering When is she going to die already?
If you're planning to see Ocean's Eleven, prepare yourself for some deja vu come 2002, as George Clooney will make his directorial with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, starring Ocean's pals Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts. The film, set to begin shooting in January, is a comedic biopic about Gong Show host Chuck Barris.
The early list of presenters and performers at the upcoming American Music Awards--set to air January 9 on ABC--has been released. Presenters include Alicia Keys, Chris Klein, LeAnn Rimes, Frankie Muniz, Method Man, Niki Taylor, Tyrese and many more entertainment stars. Performers include Lenny Kravitz, Kid Rock, Brooks & Dunn and Cher.
William Jovanovich, chief executive and chairman of publishing house Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, died of a heart attack on Tuesday in his home in Point Loma, Calif., his family announced Thursday. He was 81.
Cast Away director Robert Zemeckis pulled a disappearing act of his own on Tuesday: he secretively eloped, marrying actress Leslie Harter in Venice, Italy. This is Zemeckis' second marriage.
A life-size bronze statue was dedicated to late actor Cary Grant on Friday in the British city of Bristol, his hometown. Grant's widow, Barbara Jaynes, unveiled the statue, which was paid for by the people of Bristol.
On Thursday, Robert De Niro announced that he plans to launch a new event called the Tribeca Film Festival in lower Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood. The festival, to be held just north of "ground zero," the location of the World Trade Center collapse, will commence May 1, 2001 and last for five days, showcasing 40 films from around the world.
While CBS pulled off a victory in total primetime viewers in the November sweeps, the Eye Network also performed well in late-night ratings for the month, according to Nielsen Media Research. The Late Show with David Letterman had its best November since 1997, up 21% in viewers 18-49, while The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn shot up 25% in the same key demographic.
After three years on the hit NBC drama ER, actress Michael Michele--who plays Dr. Cleo Finch--is leaving the show due to physical duress caused by constant cross-country flights from New York to Los Angeles. Michele plays Will Smith's wife in the upcoming film Ali.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan taped an episode of Sesame Street on Thursday, The Associated Press reports. Annan will serve as a peacekeeper in the episode, teaching Elmo and the gang how to get along as friends.
Hot on the heels of the success of Harry Potter and the buzz surrounding The Lord of the Rings, Walden Media announced on Thursday that they have joined forces with The C.S. Lewis Co. to produce a live-action film based on the novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Walden Media, a newcomer on the studio scene, plans to produce all seven of Lewis' popular "Narnia" novels.