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(2001) (Judi Dench, Kate Winslet) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Minor Moderate Mild None
Mild Minor None None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Extreme Mild Moderate Moderate None

Drama: The life of novelist Irish Murdoch is explored in this film that shows her in her later years battling progressively worsening senility, balanced with views of her in her youth when she first met and fell for the man who would become her husband and stick with her through those later rough times.
Iris Murdoch (JUDI DENCH) is a well-respected philosopher and author of some 26 novels who lives for words and the freedom of the mind. Thus, when she starts to forget things, she begins to worry, but her longtime husband, John Bayley (JIM BROADBENT), attributes it to just old age. Yet, when her condition continues to deteriorate and medical tests eventually show that things won't get better, John does what he can - with the aid of Iris' lifelong friend, Janet Stone (PENELOPE WILTON) -- to help Iris get through her progressively worsening senility.

As he does so, he remembers their early days together at Oxford in the 1950s with Janet (JULIET AUBREY). There, Iris (KATE WINSLET) is just starting her writing career, and John (HUGH BONNEVILLE) is simply blown away by her beauty, brains and free-spirited nature, although he's somewhat troubled by Iris's sexual freeness, including her affair with Maurice (SAMUEL WEST), a snobbish married man.

As the story alternates back and forth between their early and later years together, John continues to care for his wife of 40 years, even when she no longer resembles the bright and independent woman she once was.

Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or like period and/or biographical works, it's probably not very likely.
For sexuality/nudity and some language.
  • JUDI DENCH plays the novelist in her later years who's a profound intellectual but finds herself slipping into progressively worsening senility.
  • JIM BROADBENT plays her husband who tries to care for her body, mind and soul as best as he can, but occasionally becomes irritated with what the condition does to her. In one of those moments, he briefly uses some strong profanity.
  • KATE WINSLET plays the intellectual author at a much younger and free-spirited age who enjoys skinny-dipping, having sex with various people and smoking.
  • HUGH BONNEVILLE plays her young suitor and future husband who's mesmerized by her, but a bit disturbed by some of her behavior.
  • PENELOPE WILTON and JULIET AUBREY play the older and younger versions of Iris' close friend.
  • SAMUEL WEST plays a married man who has an affair with young Iris.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. As a young woman skinny-dips, we see various instances of her nudity both in and out of the water (including bare breasts, bare rear and brief full frontal nudity). Other nonsexual nudity is present (bare rears and breasts), and we also see the young protagonist's bare breasts as she has sex on top of a man who's lying on a bed (with movement and sounds).

    In another scene, and with another man, she informs him that they should make love, begins to undress, and then gropes him via his pants pocket. That woman also briefly kisses another woman and it's implied that she may be bisexual. Some, non-explicit, sexually related comments are also made. Profanity is sparse, but does include 3 quick uses of the "f" word.

    Various characters drink and/or smoke, a few have bad attitudes (including a man who's having an affair), and some tense family moments and thematic elements involve a husband having to deal with his wife's progressively worsening senility (and a few family deaths).

    Should you still be concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding its content.

  • A person introducing Iris at a dinner compares her to a fine wine and many people there have wine in front of them.
  • Various people drink wine around young Iris, including young John.
  • John brings over mugs of beer for Iris and himself and she pours a shot of clear liquid (presumably liquor) into hers before drinking it.
  • Various people have wine at a dance.
  • Young John opens some champagne for Iris and himself (and both drink).
  • We see various bottles of liquor in John and Iris' house.
  • Young John and Iris have wine with Maurice.
  • Young Iris has a beer.
  • Various people drink in the past, including John and Iris.
  • Old John drinks wine and appears a bit tipsy.
  • We hear what sound like farting, excrement and/or urination sounds as old Iris stands partially bent over (and clothed) in the house (but we don't see anything).
  • Iris admits to sleeping with Maurice despite him being married.
  • John occasionally has some bad attitudes toward Iris and her senility, but they're based on frustration rather than true dislike of her.
  • Old Iris wanders outside, and meanders along busy streets and among strangers, all while John worries about where she can be and searches for her.
  • Old Iris freaks out in the car while John is driving, grabbing at the steering wheel and then opening the door and jumping out. He then gets out and falls down a hill -- after a car blasts past him -- to find here there laughing (neither is apparently hurt).
  • None.
  • Phrases: "You stubborn cow."
  • We see that young Iris likes to go skinny-dipping.
  • The sudden sound of a loud, passing train (as one scene suddenly switches to another) might startle some viewers.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 3 "f" words, 1 damn and 1 use of "My God" as exclamations.
  • We see somewhat of a washed out image of young Iris swimming underwater, but can tell that she's nude (with some partial views of her bare breasts and bare butt). Swimming with her is young John in a tank top and shorts.
  • Iris makes a speech that human beings love each other in sex and in friendship.
  • Feeling awkward, young John says that they're not allowed to have women in their rooms, prompting Iris to joke that he really hasn't had her. Moments later, they move in closer, seemingly to kiss, but instead they rub noses and he then kisses her hand and then up her arm. She then says she should be doing that to him, and so has him remove his coat, push up his shirtsleeve, and then likewise kisses up his arm. A bit flustered, he asks her if they'd do that all of the time if they were married. She replies that they should nearly do it all of the time.
  • Young John walks into a café and sees a young woman kiss Iris on the lips as she leaves. He then asks if women like Iris and if she likes them. She replies, "Do you mean lesbians?" and then asks if that would bother him. He then says that the same thing happens with him and homosexuals. She then playfully asks if he goes to bed with them and he says no. She then makes some comment about old-fashioned lesbians.
  • Young John walks up on the street and sees Iris kissing some man in the window. He then goes inside, opens the door and then walks away in horror/shock at what he's seen (and moments later sees the man leave the building).
  • We see another view of young Iris swimming nude underwater, but this time we have a clearer view of her bare breasts.
  • As a boat passes by with a man and young woman (the latter who's topless in a bikini bottom but facing away from the camera as she lies on the back), the man jokingly calls John a dirty old man when he spots John helping remove part of Iris's clothes so she can go swimming.
  • That scene is then inter-cut with a similar scene from the past where young Iris swims nude with John. We see various shots of her bare breasts, including when some young schoolboys pass by and stop to stare. We then see full rear nudity of her getting out of the body of water, as well as a brief full frontal view of her (that the boys' male teacher stops to see). Old Iris then sees a vision of her younger self swimming toward her underwater (more views of her breasts) and it scares her. We then see shots of old John trying to dress old Iris, as well as that of young John drying off young Iris who's still nude.
  • Young Maurice is jealous when Iris brings John over to his place for dinner, and they talk about her novel. John states that someone told him that it's okay to have your name dropped into a literary work as long as it states that you're good in bed. Maurice then makes a sexual comment asking if she's granted her "favor" to John (meaning sex), but then acts like he's talking about her letting him read her work.
  • Young Iris tells John that it's time they "make love." He's flustered, especially when she asks if he has a French letter (which she then calls a "rubber thingy"). He says he doesn't, prompting her to say that they'll just have to be careful. She then goes into the bedroom, sits on the bed, and takes of her shoes and then her stockings. He slowly approaches and stands there, prompting her to say it will be easier if he takes off his trousers. He then indicates he's not experienced in such matters, so she stands and then puts her hand down inside his pocket, apparently groping him (we see his surprised and then slightly pleasured reaction).
  • We see young Iris and John both go skinny-dipping and we briefly see their bare butts.
  • Old Janet gives old Iris a shower (nothing sexual) and we briefly see Janet's bare breasts.
  • In the past and related to an above scene, young John peers in and sees Iris having sex on top of Maurice who's lying down. We see her bare breasts and movement, and hear related sounds.
  • Later, John confronts Iris about this and she admits to making love to Maurice despite him being married. Even later, she decides to come forward and tells him about her previous lovers, and mentions going to bed with them.
  • Young Iris smokes a few times, while young Maurice smokes once and some miscellaneous people smoke.
  • Iris's worsening condition eventually puts a strain on John, and he occasionally becomes short with her, even saying at one frustrated point that he hates her (or what has become of her), but he sticks with her through the hard times.
  • Two adult children must deal with their mother's death at a funeral scene.
  • John must deal with Iris' death.
  • The real life Irish Murdoch.
  • Going senile and/or losing one's memory and/or cognitive abilities.
  • Putting loved ones in nursing homes.
  • None.

  • Reviewed February 7, 2002 / Posted February 15, 2002

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