Notes on a Scandal (2006)
/10 74.9K votes
Language: English | French
Release date: 22 February 2007
A veteran high school teacher befriends a younger art teacher, who is having an affair with one of her 15 year old students. However, her intentions with this new "friend" also go well beyond platonic friendship.
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Without a doubt this year's Academy Awards will be a show to watch. You may want to turn the spot lights to the "BEST ACTRESS IN LEADING ROLE" nomination, because if you saw "The Queen" and loved Helen Mirren, you ain't seen nothing' yet. Go watch "Notes on a Scandal" with Dame Judi Dench at helm, and make sure to bring your casket with you, because you may die of watching a movie that good.
Years ago I went to see a play in a theater. At some point in the show, the grandmother character had to sweep the floor and when she was done, she looked around to make sure nobody was looking and threw the dirt under the carpet. Everyone in the audience laughed. Later I learned that in theater "language" it also may mean that there are hidden secrets in that family.
The director Richard Eyre,who is known mostly for his theater/Broadway work, seems to build this amazing film based on that little theater shtick, and fills the film with the darkness under the carpet, puts us right there and makes us face that dirt. The characters of the young teacher played by Cate Blanchett and older teacher played by M. Judi Dench are impeccable and you can't take your eyes off them. I, personally, think that Dench's performance is one of the finest I have ever seen.
I wouldn't want to spoil the movie for you and give out details, however if you are looking for watching a powerful drama that will shock and thrill and move you with its message, execution and the story, please read no further. Stand up, get dressed and go to see "Notes on a Scandal" right now.
Fmovies: I saw this at a preview last night. It is a brilliant, absorbing little piece from Zoe Heller's novel about a teacher (Cate Blanchett, looking stunning) who has an affair with a 15 year old pupil and the effect this has on her relationship with a bitter, older teacher seeking selfishly for love (Judy Dench, looking 100). Great performances all round, with special mention to Bill Nighy in the Bill Nighy role. The script (Patrick Marber) is faithful to the book but enjoyable though the book was the film is actually - for a change - even better. Beautifully filmed in North London and Eastbourne (presumably the school scenes) this movie is definitely a must see.
Every film should aspire to be as satisfying as this one is - on every level, and there are so many layers to it all. Nothing is as it appears and the film unwinds in the form of comments and voice-overs from the many journals of the protagonist.
Judi Dench, yet again, sinks her teeth into the part of Barbara Covett, a cynical and acerbic history teacher putting in time in an inner city school.
Enter Cate Blanchett, playing Sheba Hart, the new art teacher, fragile, naive, innocent and hopeful. Or is she? Barbara quickly ensconces herself into Sheba's life, becoming confidante and friend.
And then the plot thickens and assumes the intensity of a thriller as Sheba's life starts to fall apart, secretly abetted by Barbara. The tension does not let up until the very last frame and the viewer is never quite sure where this ride is going.
Sheba and Barbara are very alike at their cores, there is a fragile 'fatal attraction' theme running through their relationship, shadowed by Sheba's impossible affair with a fifteen year old boy which is in turn shadowed by her Down's Syndrome son who is of an age with her student, and again this is shadowed by her daughter's coming of age love troubles and overall the shadow of her own marriage to a much older man, who left his wife and children for her teenage self. I found all of these themes winding again and again throughout the film. The characters are fully rounded and indeed are also shown happy in the bosoms of their individual families but with a distance portrayed as if they are never quite sure of their places within them - always a distraction and secrets.
Barbara has her shadows too and they start to trickle through and become more vocalized and by others, as the stories unfold.
Enough said without spoilers. Bill Nighy, as Sheba's husband ably enhances the two astonishing performances of the female leads.
Movie making at its finest. This is being shown in two theatres in the same complex where I saw it and both were packed. It is very heartening to see a character driven and challenging movie being so popular.
10 out of 10. Superlative, down to the music by Philip Glass.
Notes on a Scandal fmovies. NOTES ON A SCANDAL is a Judi Dench "triumph" of brilliant wit, pain and a satanic passion for a woman out of reach in Cate Blanchett. Her "Judas" to her supposed friend and fellow teacher is an acting performance which will land Ms. Dench right back in "Oscar country". Too bad it is in the same year as Helen Mirren's magnificent "Queen" as Dench gives a show here in NOTES ON A SCANDAL that leaves you quite breathless to the last and final scene and fade out.
Patrick Marber delivers a deliciously wicked, witty and crisply written script in NOTES, and it only enhances his reputation for giving an audience a story well developed and with characters that you can't take your eyes off on the screen. His writing in CLOSER was so brilliant and clever, but in NOTES ON A SCANDAL he hands Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett words that are zingers and with a strong blend of anger, pain and humor. Please, Patrick, gives us another film quickly! The "teacher/student" romance was well developed and the chemistry between the two actors was believable and very sexual, and one could understand the youthful passion delivered by a young man with a strong mind and body. I did at times have to listen carefully to the young actor's lines, but he delivered them like a pro.
In the weeks ahead, I anticipate a "roar from the crowd" for this very dark and witty Judi Dench performance and who knows, she may upset "The Crown" in the end come Oscar time.
This is a story told through the proper subjective medium, film, with such painful, cynical candor for how Barbara has spent a life disabusing herself of any rose-tinted notion of life or people. The price? Absolute, utter loneliness. The dynamic human images we see our narrated by the day-by-day items in the diary she zealously keeps as a sanctuary, and an affirmation. The movie fixes on acts of indiscretion and disloyalty, entailing not just our scathingly wise narrator and her new teaching colleague Sheba, but Sheba's husband, the headmaster, a teacher infatuated with Sheba, and a 15-year-old student. Each believes their reasons are sincere, but are all entrenched in variations of self-deception. As Barbara says, in one of the most tellingly human things I've ever heard in a movie, "It takes courage to recognize the real as opposed to the convenient."
Dench and Blanchett, as Barbara and Sheba, share not only a gift for deep behavioral detail but a skill at withholding or telegraphing charm and beauty, as required. This may be one of the numerous reasons why they're as compelling as they are. It's definitely part of why this is some of their finest work. It's part of the drama's mechanism. Were Sheba not the breed of beauty she is, a naive, impressionable, coddled pixie, then we couldn't appreciate how intensely Barbara wants her. It's not exactly love so much as controlling, envious fixation on Sheba's stunning upper-class ease. And were Barbara not a teakettle of seclusion boiling through decades of disillusionment, we couldn't identify with how distorted the manifestation of that affection becomes.
That's the marvel of the movie: It's about the venomous influence of loneliness, viewed through a tale of two people in love. But unfortunately for both, not with one another. Sheba becomes smitten with a cute but cagey student. Played with what seems like natural hyper-confidence by Andrew Simpson, he sees an occasion in the way she looks at him. She has no clue of how defenseless she truly is. It's not only dishonest and unethical, she tells herself, it's totally ludicrous, but when he cups her face and says, "You're beautiful, Miss," she melts.
Barbara, meanwhile, fosters an obsession in her diary, relating thoughts precariously bordering on fantasy. Barbara's seclusion within the school is total, but Sheba is somebody who hasn't experienced her acidity. Barbara can smother someone with good turns and not be rejected. She helps Sheba win control of her students. "One soon learns that teaching is crowd control. We're a branch of social services." Sheba asks her to Sunday roast, where Barbara describes Sheba's family with characteristically rancorous humor. Dench's delivery of these delectably spiteful lines is an triumph in vocal meticulousness and tone that is its own prize. Even when this apparent ice queen drops minute words of vulnerability like "Is that why she hasn't returned my calls?" there's an extra intensity in how strongly we can all relate to the insecurities of her inner voice.
There are giftedly handled, extraordinarily candid scenes of rage, humiliation and disgrace, and cruel physical and emotional clashes of immense force. The teachers are somewhat caricatured, but that's because they're filtered through Barbara's misanthropic viewpoint. If it's her omniscient voice we're hearing, it's through her omniscient eyes we're seeing w
Certainly a very stylish drama, riveting and brilliant, rising above the modern-day thrillers due to stunning performances of two very gifted actresses. It's both dramatic and funny, Judy Dench and Cate Blanchett are delicious and so talented that they turn a misanthrope cat and mouse game into a politically correct entertaining account. This strong emotional battle is not only something about teacher-student sex, it's also an obsessing blackmail. Without exaggerating it could be deemed "memorable", as revelations abound, tempers flare all the time and every single confidence is shared. Never boring and deep.