Judi Dench received her fourth Best Actress nomination for playing Iris Murdoch, a writer suffering from Alzheimer's disease in Richard Eyre's movie, Iris. I don't think that Judi Dench had much chance of winning that year, mostly because of the fact that she was a recent winner, plus her movie was nota great hit like, say, In the Bedroom. In the end, I feel she was fifth as I think that Renée Zellweger must have received more votes due to the apparent enthusiasm towards her among (some) Academy members. Judi won the Bafta, though.
Iris is such a boring movie. I mean it's less than 90 minutes and yet it feels like I was watching it for at least a day. Richard Eyre's directing here is even more manipulative than it was in Notes on a Scandal. OK, his work here is not manipulative but he uses some really lame tricks to gain the audience's sympathy. I didn't really see the point of the movie and sometimes I felt that the movie was orgasming over itself. All in all, I didn't like it at all. Jim Broadbent gives probably the best performance and he might have even deserved his Oscar win in that weak field. Kate Winslet is also fine but I wouldn't call her amazing.
I so love Judi Dench. Her divine voice, her unique, wonderful presence, her subtlety, everything. She's a real genious at her craft and I always love watching her performances. I would just kill to see one of her theatre performances. Sometimes I'm really biased about her and I can't think clearly but I'll try to do that here. She plays Iris Murdoch, a very smart, educated woman who lives in her own private world of words and thoughts. It's really sad (and even ironic in a brutal way) that this beautiful mind is killed by a serious disease.
The part seems to be very baity and if you haven't seen Iris, you'll instantly think of a performance like the one that Julie Christie gave in Away from Her. Christie's work there was poetic, beautiful and it was really full of emotion. I guess the best thing about that one was that it didn't focus on the side effects of her sickness exclusively but also a more emotional side. In Iris, however, we can see Judi Dench screaming, crying, looking really lost and confused and yet she's not touching. Some might say I'm an idiot but in my opinion, Jim Broadbent is the one who gets the more emotional storylines and a real development. For the most of the time, Iris is just standing and/or smiling/screaming. It's a mostly quiet character with outbursts. I know that it's really unfair to compare her to Christie but I just wanted to say how much the role of Iris lacks the real opportunities for Judi.
Judi is still good within the limits of the character. She's really heart-breaking in some of the scenes and she shows all the side effects of the illness really well. I liked that she showed that Iris was like the light of a candle. She was getting weaker and weaker until she was gone. I also loved the tender, quiet moments between her and Jim Broadbent. They were really great, in my opinion.
However, the scenes that truly impressed me were the ones where I got to know Iris' intellectual self and beautiful spirit. Judi Dench delivers those remarkable speeches brilliantly and I liked that she made Iris such a luminous, shining mind. That's why the last monologue of hers is so effective, that it positively influenced my opinion about this whole work. I loved Iris' brightness. When the brightness is gone, the work becomes a bit standard and she's not that interesting any more even though she could have been even more interesting.
Judi Dench gives an unspectacular but great performance as Iris Murdoch. Although this is definitely not her best work, there's nothing wrong about it. I liked it very much and I was quite moved occasionally, it's just that I feel that the part didn't require a talent like Dench's. As I said, there are no serious problems, I still feel slightly disappointed.
What do you think?