On the topmost level, Iris is about the life of the writer Iris Murdoch. Or maybe it's about coping with Alzheimer's. As I watched the movie, I came to the conclusion that it's really about love. It's about love and history, and how we put up with the faults and foibles of the people we love because we remember the moments in a relationship that bind people together at the heart.
Shared experience is really the basis for any relationship, good or bad. When it's good enough, it can help transcend the bad times, whenever and however they appear. The flashback scenes in the movie are our signal that no matter how difficult life gets as the Alzheimer's progresses, the love between the two characters can't be touched by it.
That's a comforting thing to know, that love has such strength and power. Sometimes I think of my past as a foreign country and my younger self as an alien. It's good to be reminded that time doesn't change everything. In some ways time is weak, too weak to erase the most meaningful parts of the past no matter how distant they get.
Iris is a beautiful little film that peeks into the corners of a love affair and lets us see how eloquently the passion of youth can still speak even in the fragile, fading days in the life of a relationship. What it doesn't show is the passage of time between the scenes of youth and those of age. We don't know how the couple's love was nourished in those years, what kinds of ups and downs they might have had to endure. Of all the things love is stronger than — time, poverty, pride — it usually isn't stronger than neglect.
We see in the movie what can happen when you do take the time and make the effort to nurture a relationship, and how even the worst moments with someone you love deeply can have their own reward. It's not a lesson that can be taught, because people are going to follow their own inclinations and yield to whatever temptations are powerful enough. But it's a shining example that's worth seeing just to help us ponder the possibilities.