In the Shadow of Iris

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
In the Shadow of Iris Movie Poster Image
French thriller pairs graphic sex and violence.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Scratch the surface and we're all the same underneath: same problems, same desires, same reasons for doing what we do.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The cops are the good guys, and even though they make mistakes, they handle their mistakes like grownups. And they show a dogged determination to solve the case. Sympathy for the other characters mostly comes from their charisma; they're all motivated by greed.


One scene of consensual bondage and discipline sex shows a man who's bound with ropes into a curled-up position being whipped on the back by a paid dominatrix. A trickle of blood is briefly visible behind the man's ear; no other gore. He writhes in pain. A fight with slapping, hitting with a whip, choking, and a blow to the head with something heavy. A dead body is moved several times, buried, and dug up; the face is visible but no other gore. A kidnapping victim is tied to a chair and strung up by her bound wrists. A gun to the head, a gunshot heard off screen, and the body on the ground afterward with no gore. A slap to the face. Extortion with sexual threats implied and threats to kill.


One scene shows a paid dominatrix whipping a man who's tied up on the back and a kiss with tongue afterward. Graphic simulated sex scene with woman and man nude from behind and bare breasts briefly visible. Occasional kissing and caressing sometimes tied to violence, like a kiss over the body of someone just killed. A private club has pole dancers in lingerie and bondage-and-discipline masks, several women with bare breasts, and two women kissing. Sex acts mentioned like "suck a d--k," "finger in my ass," and a man who likes to have his "balls twisted when he comes." Adults wake up in bed together, the man is seen nude from behind, and woman's nudity is implied under the covers.


Translated from French: "damn it," "a--holes," "d--k," "ass," "balls," "whores," and "f--k."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main characters sometimes smoke, frequent background smoking. Wine in glasses at a restaurant. Two adults say they got drunk and had sex but it's "not a big deal."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that In the Shadow of Iris (originally Iris) is a French thriller with English subtitles that pairs sex with violence in a consensual, bondage-and-discipline context. This Netflix Original is not for kids. One scene shows a man tied up and being whipped by a paid dominatrix; he writhes in pain, and collapses semi-conscious. A trickle of blood is visible and she gives him a long kiss with tongue. They also kiss over the body of someone who's just been murdered. There's also a graphic sex scene that shows nudity from behind and bare breasts briefly. There's very little gore, but a dead body is moved around, someone's killed in a fight, and the main plot is about a kidnapping. Main characters smoke, and there's some background smoking, too. Cursing includes "d--k," "ass," "balls," "whores," and "f--k."

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What's the story?

IN THE SHADOW OF IRIS tells of a wealthy banker, his wife (Charlotte Le Bon), and a down-and-out mechanic (Romain Duris) in Paris. The mechanic kidnaps the banker's wife and demands a ransom. As the police investigate the crime, events take strange turns and definitive proof remains elusive. Some people aren't what they seem, and some people are much more than they seem.

Is it any good?

This taut French thriller with lots of twists, turns, and surprises will keep audiences guessing right up to the end, but the pairing of sex and violence means it's absolutely not for kids. In the Shadow of Iris builds tension, suspense, and even confusion as audiences try to guess who's on who's side and what comes next.

The strong sexual content is sure to appeal to teens, but it's only for those mature enough to see that it's all pretty gratuitous. It doesn't advance the plot or tell us anything we need to know about the characters. The characters are well-developed and compelling, though, and some of the directing and camera-work tricks catch the viewer off guard. It works as a pretty good thriller, but families can find a lot of other choices without the iffy content.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the sexual content in In the Shadow of Iris. How much is OK in movies? Is it realistic? Does it tell you anything important about the characters or story?

  • Does the movie glamorize adult behavior, or do the people and their actions seem realistic?

  • Do you agree with Doriot and Claudia that people are all the same underneath? Do you think the filmmaker agrees? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

Themes & Topics

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