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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Highlights the value of education, keeping an open mind, showing love and loyalty to others. Some adultery.
Positive Role Models
Iris is articulate, intelligent, outspoken. Despite holding strong views, she is also modest. She states the importance of continually learning new things, shows emotional intelligence, is attuned to others. She has a liberal attitude toward sex and extramarital affairs with both men and women. But she is dedicated to her husband, John, whose stammer doesn't adversely affect his life or career. At times John finds it difficult to cope with Iris' numerous relationships, and later her mental deterioration, becoming angry and frustrated about both. Strong balance between male and female roles. LGBTQ+ characters present, but very little diversity among the small cast.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple swim nude together. Full-frontal female nudity shown. Male nudity shown from behind. Kissing. Character sunbathes topless, shown from behind. Character gropes another between their legs by reaching into their trouser pocket. Two characters shower together -- both shown topless. Brief, non-graphic sex scene.
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Language used includes "stupid cow," "bloody," "f--king," "s--t," "damn," and "hell."
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Products & Purchases
A couple shop for groceries, mulling over the different promotions available at the supermarket in a playful way.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink alcohol with meals, in pubs, and socially in their homes. Occasionally they smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Iris is an award-winning biopic about novelist Iris Murdoch -- including her various relationships and battle with Alzheimer's -- and that it has nudity and some language. Murdoch is portrayed by both Kate Winslet and Judi Dench as the movie follows her from young woman to an established British intellectual. Hugh Bonneville and Jim Broadbent -- who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor -- play her husband John Bayley, from whose book, Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch, the movie is adapted. The tone of the film is sympathetic and positive, as it shows Murdoch both at the peak of her intellectual powers and stricken with a debilitating form of dementia that she and John find deeply upsetting. Murdoch is unapologetic about her progressive views about sex, but never arrogant. Despite her marriage, she has sexual relationships with both men and women. Nudity features when characters swim or shower, rather than during sex scenes, although some sex does feature. Swearing is infrequent, but there are some instances of it -- including "f--king" and "s--t" -- as the drama heightens as a result of Murdoch's infidelities. Characters are seen drinking in moderation and, in keeping with the time period, occasionally smoke cigarettes. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
With its starry cast at its center, it's easy to see why this 2001 patient character study of Iris Murdoch landed three Academy Award best actor nominations. Dench, Broadbent -- who won for his portrayal of the older Bayley -- Winslet, and Bonneville deliver a well-paced script, co-adapted and directed by Richard Eyre. Especially during the scenes between Winslet and Bonneville during Murdoch's younger years, the film captures the main character's piercing intellect without alienating the audience.
Likewise, Murdoch's later years, and the difficulties she experienced as her formidable mind started to fail her, are depicted with unfussy realism and are never overly dramatic. The movie's quiet, domestic tone won't be for everyone, and one wonders whether the strain Murdoch's liberal attitude about sex placed on her marriage would've been explored in more depth if Iris hadn't been adapted from a memoir by her husband. But on the whole, this in an informative, well-acted biopic of a woman whose life's work deserves to be preserved and remembered.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.