Blu-ray Review: Stanley & Iris

 

Stanley & Iris is based on the novel by Pat Barker. The movie was directed by Martin Ritt and stars Jane Fonda, Robert De Niro, Swoosie Kurtz, Martha Plimpton, Harley Cross, Jamey Sheridan, and Feodor Chaliapin. The score is by John Williams.

The extraordinary team of director Martin Ritt and screenwriters Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch (they brought us the likes of Hud and Norma Rae) join forces with two great actors, Jane Fonda and Robert De Niro, in Stanley & Iris (1990). A slice-of-life story, the film focuses on a hard-working widow (Fonda) in a dying New England town who meets up with a diffident cook (De Niro). As they warily get to know each other, it’s revealed that Stanley, shy but smart, is also, somehow, illiterate; the tender-hearted but go-getting Iris becomes determined to teach him to read. Featuring a lovely score from the one and only John Williams, available on this Twilight Time release as an isolated track.

This 1990 drama follows these two lonely people who are looking for something, they just don’t know it’s each other yet. Iris is having a hard time moving on after her hussband’s death, plus she has a house full of relatives and a full time job that keeps her busy. Stanley is a hard working man who looks after his own father until he has to put him in a retirement home, and this doesn’t end well. Stanley is extremely smart but he never learned to read and it’s holding him back in life. Stanley and Iris run in to each other a few times and with that comes small talk that eventually turns into a friendship. This is where Stanley makes his confession and asks Iris to help him learn to read. The two help each other with their needs and of course they hit a few roadblocks along the way, but they always find a way to get past it all and move forward. Stanley and Iris have a special friendship that ultimately ends up turning into a relationship.

Okay, I liked this movie but it did have a few problems. We meet a few of family members of Iris in the beginning of the movie who completely disappear after that. I have no complaints about the movie focusing on Robert De Niro and Jane Fonda’s characters but these other characters deserved a little screen time as well, especially since they were introduced. That’s really my only gripe. I guess what I liked most about the movie was the fact that it takes place in blue collar America and deals with subjects that so many of us can relate to – death and illiteracy. I enjoyed both of these likable characters portrayed by De Niro and Fonda who always put on a show. Robert De Niro is an icon who never disappoints in any role he tackles and this one is no different. These two actors truly are the heart and soul of Stanley & Iris.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see up top and the back includes movie details, an image, a few quotes, and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc also features some matching artwork. Inside is a booklet from Twilight Time that includes more images from the movie, some nice words about Stanley & Iris by Julie Kirgo and the original artwork on the back. You can see the front cover of the booklet down below. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, Stanley & Iris was another first time watch for me and I enjoyed it. This one fits right in with some of Martin Ritt’s other heartwarming dramas like Norma Rae and Murphy’s Romance. I’m aware that it didn’t please audiences at the box office like the others but it’s still a good watch. Look, it’s not a great movie but it is a good one. The movie takes place in blue collar America and centers around everyday people that we can all relate to. It’s a touching story about overcoming obstacles and getting second chances as this man and woman slowly get to know each other. Both of them are dealing with their own personal drama and they end up helping each other along the way. She’s having a hard time moving on after her husband’s death. He’s an extremely smart man who never learned to read and it’s holding him back. This is what brings these two together and it works for them. Stanley & Iris is now available on a limited edition Blu-ray. There’s 3,000 units available and this one comes recommended.

Distributor: Twilight Time

Run Time: 104 Minutes

Rated: PG-13

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition (2.35:1) Color / Region Free (A/B/C)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: There’s not much as far as extras go but we do get Twilight Time’s trademark isolated track, some audio commentary, and theatrical trailer.

  • Isolated Music Track
  • Audio Commentary with Film Historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (01:48)

 

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