Review by Cortney of My Nerdy Pony
I found Stanley & Iris a few months ago while searching for something to watch on Netflix- I’m sure alot of you know how frustrating it is. The movie sat in my queue for a long time because the premise didn’t sound too exciting: a romantic drama about a widowed, working class mom who finds love with an illiterate man.
I finally sat down and gave it a try, and although I don’t think this movie is a must-see, I believe die-hard De Niro fans may find his performance enjoyable.
Stanley & Iris is a romantic drama about Iris King (Fonda), a recently widowed mother of two, and her budding relationship with Stanley Cox (De Niro), a hard-working yet illiterate man. She works at a baked goods factory, and he works in the factory’s cafeteria. Throughout the movie Iris mourns the loss of her husband while juggling a hectic family life, and Stanley tries to overcome his illiteracy by having reading and spelling sessions with Iris.
There’s plenty of character development for both Stanley and Iris, and by the end of the movie I felt that I knew each character very well. Iris is a thoughtful and kind woman, and she tries to be cheerful even though her family life is hectic and her dead-end job barely covers the bills. Stanley is smart, hard-working, and a Daddy’s boy. His scenes with his father are very heartwarming, but this movie wants to show that Stanley is also a tough guy. There’s a few scenes where he cops an attitude and a wide-eyed Iris lets him walk away and cool off. Sometimes their scenes reflect the typical Hollywood romance where a couple experiences friction in the relationship but eventually they work it out and become happy again.
This movie makes a strong effort to address various issues such as illiteracy, education, women in the workplace, and family unity. However, the movie also tries to insert a romance, and it just didn’t work for me. The relationship between Stanley and Iris was very depressing, even though it was supposed to be a happy time for both of them. Both of the characters have their own struggles, and they spent their time together talking about their struggles. I remember only a couple of scenes that were light hearted and suggested Stanley and Iris were a good match. I got the impression that this movie wanted to be realistic and avoid showing a perfect relationship; unfortunately, this movie took us to the other extreme and now we have two miserable people who are trying to find happiness in the other person rather than finding happiness within themselves.
I enjoyed watching Fonda and De Niro together. They gave really good performances even though the plot seemed to force a relationship between their two characters. I think both actors stepped in and made good use of their body language to make their relationship seem more believable.
I’m pretty sure no one talks about this movie during a ‘What’s Your Favorite De Niro Movie?’ conversation, and this movie probably got lost in the shuffle when you consider it’s 1990 release. Goodfellas was released in late 1990, followed by De Niro’s other popular films, such as Cape Fear (1991), A Bronx Tale (1993), Casino (1995), Jackie Brown (1997), etc. I’m sure people would rather look at those films as some of his best work and quietly skip over Stanley & Iris.