American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
I must look into myself and ask why I disliked "Iris" so intensely.
Was it entirely a complaint against the film, or was it also a protest against the fate that befell the great novelist? There is no modern writer whose work I admire more than Iris Murdoch's, and for that mind to disappear in Alzheimer's is so sad that perhaps I simply refused to accept a film about it. Perhaps. Or perhaps it is true that the movie fails to do her justice--simplifies the life of one whose work was open to such human complexities.
Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) was one of the most important and prolific British novelists of her century, and wrote and taught philosophy as well. She wrote 28 novels (between books, she said, she "took off for about half an hour"). Her novels involved "the unique strangeness of human beings," played against philosophical ideas. There were also touchstones that her readers looked forward to: a lonely child, a magus, an architectural oddity, an old friendship sorely tested, adulteries and unexpected couplings, intimations of the supernatural, theoretical conversations, ancient feuds. Her novel The Sea, The Sea won the Booker Prize and is a good place to start.
For years I looked forward to the annual Murdoch. Then her final novel arrived, shorter than usual, and at about the same time the dreaded news that she had Alzheimer's. "I feel as if I'm sailing into darkness," she said, a line used in the movie. After her death, her husband, John Bayley, wrote two books about her, dealing frankly and compassionately with her disease.