Prolific English novelist Iris Murdoch (The Sea, The Sea, Under the Net) was a lover of words and the power of language. She was quite the avant-garde free-thinker as a young professor and the shy, stuttering John Bayley seemed an unlikely match for her, but fall in love they did and they shared a long and loving marriage. The movie focuses on Iris' battle with Alzheimer's disease, which gradually robbed her of the ability to use her beloved words. John cared for her and loved her until the end.
This is simply the best movie I've seen in a long time; the acting is superb as is the script. Judi Dench gives a stunning performance as Iris. It is heartbreaking to watch her steady decline, knowing how it must end. She was nominated for, but did not receive an Oscar, however, Jim Broadbent won one for his role as her steadfast husband. He, too, is perfect, tenderly caring for his beloved even when she doesn't know him. When the movie flashes from Iris' present decline to John's memories of their meeting and courtship, the younger Iris is well-played by Kate Winslet. She captures the love of life and philosophy that Iris had. The James Horner soundtrack is the perfect companion to the deeply personal and yet universally-understood story of unselfish love.