I consider Iris (2001), about the British novelist Iris Murdoch and Alzheimer’s disease, a lousy film.
Not only does smug Murdoch wear her intellect on her sleeve, which is bad enough, but nothing justifies such a thing since the talk here is constantly intellectually shallow. Acted as a young woman by Kate Winslet (and here the smugness comes in) and as an elderly woman by Judi Dench, the revered Iris has a penchant for skinny dipping as well as adultery, even lesbian adultery. She is, then, a run-of-the-mill female rake, which is not very interesting. And then there’s Murdoch’s husband John Bayley (he’s always fun), who is such a silly and awkward man it is damned difficult to think of him as a professor of literature. The blame for the jejune acting of the two men who portray him belongs, I think, to the director, Richard Eyre. This is Eyre’s John Bayley before it is the actors.’