4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2007
Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), the new art teacher, meets Barbara Covette (Judi Dench), the history teacher; they soon become friends. Barbara is lonely with her cat while Sheba has a husband (Bill Nighy), a son with Down Syndrome, Ben (Max Lewis) and a teenage daughter, Polly (Juno Temple).
One night, Barbara discovers Sheba's relation with 15-year-old student Steven Connolly (Andrew Simpson). Barbara will also embark on an inappropriate relationship with Sheba.
I can not for the life of me, figure out *why* Sheba would be interested in Steven. There is no magnetism between them, and Simpson's character evidently has no appeal, no charisma...
Despite this, those were great performances by Dench and Blanchett, although at times it seemed that they overacted.
Nighy is an excellent actor, whom I've never seen before. (I'll have to find out what else he played in.)
The plot itself was way too basic and dull to be anything but interesting. The ending was predictable.
Worth watching only for the actors' performances.
(I watched for the Dench-Blanchett match, and a match it was!)
4 stars for the actors.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Food, water, clothing and shelter are the things human beings need to physically survive. But our highly evolved brains require something else as well: connection. We seek it through friends, lovers, music, pets, soap opera characters and in certain desperate situations probably soccer balls. Without it, we will surely go mad. Mad like the aptly named Barbara Covett (Judi Dench), who, in turns her attention to a new co-worker in her desperate, endless quest to... connect.
Both Barbara and newly hired Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) are teachers at a British high school. Embittered Barbara has retreated into a position of being feared enough to baby-sit her students without incident. Told through the icy, disturbing prose of Barbara narrating from her diary, "Notes on a Scandal" is a brilliant, unflinching look into the dark heart of loneliness. Dench is amazing: It would be easy enough for the story to view Barbara as a diabolical spinster fiend looking to ruin the happiness of the poor, nice people around her. After all, Hollywood made that movie a couple dozen times in the years following Fatal Attraction. Both of the film's lead characters are morally corrupt, though it is hard not to feel sympathy for the pair of them. Playing against type effectively, Dench's Barbara ranges from such monstrous and reprehensible selfish acts of manipulation, but then the fragility and loneliness with which Dench endows her forbids us from condemning her completely. Meanwhile, Blanchett makes us sympathise with the well-painted Sheba, trying to escape her everyday life with her Down's Syndrome son and older husband (the wonderful Bill Nighy).
Sheba's relationship, or at least affair, with her pupil ( now 18-year-old Andrew Simpson) never in any sense comes across as acceptable in any way, and Simpson straddles the adolescent schoolchild/adult boundary very well. We're made to understand the characters' situation without ever being made to accept it.
Director Richard Eyre stages all this with a perfect eye toward detail and human behavior, keeping the fires of a thriller burning at all times through the characters' fear of having both their crimes and their feelings discovered. Having never read Zoe Hiller's novel What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal, I can't say with certainty how much of the sensational dialog comes from her and how much from Marber, but either way, his screenplay adaptation is outstanding as well as the over-the-top soundtrack from Philip Glass who helped kept up the tension levels throug out this film.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2012
*Spoiler alert* This film is based in the U.K. and is from the point of view of an elderly woman (Judi Dench) who teaches as a local public school. A new art teacher (Cate Blanchett) arrives and the two become good friends, the older woman wanting a little bit more than just friendship though. Suddenly, she discovers the art teacher is having an affair with one of the students and the story takes off from there. The acting is just wonderful and I don't tire of watching this movie.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Lonely high school teacher Barbara Covett (Judi Dench)'s only confidant is her diary, in which she records her intimate thoughts and frequent delusions of happiness. Young Sheba (Cate Blanchett) joins the faculty and Barbara is at first fascinated and then obsessed with her. When she discovers Sheba's affair with a student, Barbara agrees to keep the secret, but her unreasonable demands of Sheba's time and loyalty lead to disaster.
What a movie! It is absolutely wonderful. Both Dench and Blanchett were justly nominated for Academy Awards for their performances, and I couldn't take my eyes off of them. Dench plays a really sick, manipulating woman who does scary things, and yet has such a pathetic life one can't help but feel sorry for her. Blanchett has never looked more beautiful; she plays a complex woman with a seemingly happy family life who still feels unfulfilled, and looks for happiness from a young boy.
This film is well-written, insightfully directed, and the acting could not be better. Heartily recommended to those who enjoy emotional character studies.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2007
this movie is a definite must see.i don't remember when i saw a movie as
powerful and gut wrenching.Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench are 2 titans
in the movie industry,and it shows in this movie.both actresses put on
an acting clinic,with 2 Tour De Force performances.i won't give too
much away,but lets just say as psychological dramas go,they don't come
much better than this.the villain in this piece would have Hannibal
Lector for dinner(with some Fava beans and a good chianti,of
course)that is just my opinion of course.i know the character of Lector
is held sacred by some.but watch this film and judge for yourself.for
me, like i said, "Notes on a Scandal" is a 5/5
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
As dramas go, this one's among
The best I've ever seen
Cate Blanchett and Dame Judi Dench
Electrify the screen
Dench plays Barbara, an old maid
Who hides a burning passion
She keeps a daily diary
In her compulsive fashion
Cate plays winsome Sheba H
Who signs up to teach Art
The two begin a friendship
Which one woman takes to heart
Into each heart some tears must fall
As Barbara soon will learn
She finds out that her closest friend
Does not love in return
She catches Sheba in the act
I won't be too explicit
So let's just say, she lost control
And that it was illicit
Barbara pounces on the chance
A fly trapped by a spider
She promises her silence
As the tangled web grows wider
Passions burn and passions ebb
Beyond this simple rhyme
This movie is one you must buy
And well worth every dime