Iris: Review


It takes but ten seconds of Albert Maysles’ documentary about fashion icon, Iris Apfel, to understand why she would warrant a film about her life. Her almost otherworldly appearance, with glasses that take up half of her face and layers upon layers of jewellery – or rather bling – screams personality and, whether right or wrong, instantly makes you want to laugh.

Seeing this geriatric guru model talk us through her bold outfits in the opening sequence, it’s virtually impossible not to be instantly drawn to her. You can’t help but be curious, regardless of your interest in fashion and design.

Ninety years-old and still going strong, Apfel is a nonagenarian New Yorker with plenty of character and charm to keep you entertained over the course of the film’s brisk eighty minutes. However, whilst Maysles does a wonderful job of detailing Iris’ suitably colourful life and her travels all over the world through homemade footage and pictures, the film fails to offer anything of long-lasting impact. 

The best moments come from the time spent with Iris and her husband Carl, who, on the brink of turning a hundred years-old, Iris clearly worries about. Breaking into song every now and again, Carl proves to be a bit of a character himself, unafraid of taking risks with his own wardrobe – a gold studded baseball cap proving particularly fetching. 

When the couple are together on-screen, magic happens. In these moments Iris feels like a tender account of a loving and caring couple who whilst young at heart, must struggle to deal with all the worries and concerns that come with their age. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t quite enough of the two together to really make Iris something truly special. Maysles scratches the surface of some of the themes like getting old, but otherwise Iris is strictly a catwalk through the life and career of Apfel.

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