Rated PG, directed by Richard Eyre, with Judi Dench (Iris Murdoch), Jim Broadbent (John Bayley), Kate Winslet (Young Iris Murdoch), Hugh Benneville (Young John Bayley), running time: 90 minutes.
Near the beginning of Richard Eyre's film on the life of Iris Murdoch, the great dame of novels and philosophy loses her train of thought during an interview -- a watershed moment harkening the onset of Alzheimer's. From there the film moves back and forth between an Iris Murdoch of youth and intellectual vibrancy, to one slipping deeper into mental murk. Tracing her long-time relationship with intellect and critic, John Bayley, the film was based on two memoirs which he published following her death. His is the emotional journey on which the audience is taken, through early scenes of their courtship and the puttering domesticity they share late in life, though Judi Dench -- like Murdoch herself -- wins every moment. -- staff writer