Notes on a Scandal (2006) Poster

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9/10
Gritty, observational and brilliantly performed
TheLittleSongbird13 September 2010
As a fan of Judi Dench, I was recommended Notes on a Scandel. When I saw it for myself, I was really impressed. I loved how gritty and observational Notes on a Scandal was, and how Dench's character skillfully played with the audience's emotions. I loved the beautiful, dark yet evocative cinematography and locations. I also was surprised at how much I liked Phillip Glass's moody score, I can find Glass repetitive, but this and The Hours are some of his better work. I loved how deliciously acerbic the screenplay was, how compelling the story was and how solid the direction was. And I loved the acting, both Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett are given meaty characters, Dench in particular, and both give brilliant performances. While the ending is a little melodramatic and packs less of an emotional punch than the rest of the film, overall Notes on a Scandal is pretty darn impressive. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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8/10
The object of my fixation
bkoganbing24 March 2016
Notes On A Scandal using a technique developed by Eugene O'Neill in Strange Interlude tells the story of a pair of middle school teachers Judy Dench and Cate Blanchett. It is through Dench that we see the drama unfold. Dench between dialog narrates the story and in her narration speaks her real thoughts like O'Neill's characters in Strange Interlude.

Dench is a frustrated old battle ax who is a lesbian. We never do learn whether she's ever had a relationship with another woman as a peer. From what we see of her character she's demanding and manipulative.

Blanchett is a popular new art teacher who is going through her mid life crisis. She drifts into an affair with a 15 year old student Arthur Simpson whom she sees as an art protégé.

Dench finds out about it, but she does not report it as her job required her to do. Instead she blackmails Blanchett, not directly as it were, but subtly calling herself Blanchett's friend and trying ever so hard to spin a web of trust. Sooner or later the move romantically will come. Dench also keeps a journal of this and these are the Notes On A Scandal.

Besides Strange Interlude, Notes On A Scandal also bears comparison to the Vanessa Redgrave film, The Bostonians from the Eighties which is adapted from a Henry James novel. Young Maddeline Potter is caught between a life totally dedicated to the feminist movement with Vanessa Redgrave or romance with a courtly handsome southern lawyer in Christopher Reeve. Redgrave's character was quite manipulative although I think Dench wins the manipulation contest between the two of them.

The way the film is written and structured Judy Dench is playing two roles almost at the same time. The character interacting with others and the one who is narrating the film through her notes. It's quite a task and got Ms. Dench an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

Probably Cate Blanchett should have been nominated in that category as well, but I guess so the two women wouldn't be competing against each other Blanchett got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Their scenes together truly sizzle, especially at the end.

Fans of Judy Dench and Cate Blanchett will be well pleased with Notes On A Scandal.
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9/10
Two great actresses at work
SnoopyStyle9 August 2014
The bitter Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) is a loner old teacher resentful of everyone and everything. She writes bitingly in her journal. She is fascinated with the new art teacher Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett). After she helps Sheba stop a fight, they become friends and Sheba invites her to a family lunch. She is surprised to find Sheba's husband Richard (Bill Nighy) is as old as she is. Sheba has been home taking care of her son Ben with Down's Syndrome for the last 10 years, and also has a teen Polly (Juno Temple). Sheba starts confiding in Barbara. Then she accidentally discovers that Sheba is having an affair with her student Steven Connolly (Andrew Simpson). At first, she helps to keep Sheba's confidence. She pushes Sheba to end her affair. Her beloved cat gets deadly sick. When Sheba decides to go to his son Ben's play instead of going to the vet with her for her cat's death, she decides to let out her bitterness.

There are two great thespians at work. Judi Dench is brilliant and Cate Blanchett is just as brilliant playing the weaker character. Diabolical Dench is like a spider catching the unsuspecting Blanchett in her web. Her narration is delicious. It is a sickening ride that isn't for everyone.
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seductive
Kirpianuscus25 April 2016
the theme is not original. the adapted novel is great. so, the only temptation is the acting. and it is really great. Judi Dench does a splendid Barbara. each nuance, each word or gesture seems be part of refined spiderweb. Cate Blanchett, as vulnerable young teacher, in middle of new universe, victim of her good intentions, is not a surprise. the key remains the dialog. its nuances, its levels, its force to define the struggles, the confidence, the final. a film about a relationship who seems be perfect labyrinth. two impressive actresses. and the solid construction of a story about temptation and about forms of solitude. fascinating work, it is one of rare cinema delights . because it reminds the art of acting and the extraordinary science of use of details.
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9/10
A Tale of Obsession, Loneliness and Machiavellism
claudio_carvalho5 February 2008
The bitter, cynical and lonely Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) is a tough and conservative teacher near to retirement that is loathed by her colleagues and students. In the loneliness of her apartment, she spends her spare time writing her journal, taking care of her old cat Portia and missing her special friend Jennifer Dodd. When Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) joins the high-school as the new art teacher, Barbara dedicates her attention to the newcomer, writing sharp and unpleasant comments about her behavior and clothes. When Barbara helps Sheba in a difficult situation with two students, the grateful Sheba invites her to have lunch with her family. Sheba introduces her husband and former professor Richard Hart (Bill Nighy), who is about twenty years older than she; her rebellious teenager daughter Polly (Juno Temple); and her son Ben (Max Lewis) that has Dawn Syndrome. Barbara becomes close to Sheba, but when she accidentally discovers that Sheba is having an affair with the fifteen year-old student Steven Connolly (Andrew Simpson), Barbara sees the chance to manipulate and get closer to Sheba, hiding the secret from the school headmaster. When Portia dies and Sheba does not stay with Barbara in the veterinary office to see Ben in a theater play, Barbara plots a Machiavellian revenge against Sheba, creating a scandal and consequent turmoil in their lives.

"Note on a Scandal" is a gem to be discovered by movie lovers. This tale of obsession, loneliness and Machiavellism is supported by a magnificent screenplay and awesome performances of Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, two of the best actresses of the cinema industry in the present days. The story has drama, romance, passion, lust, obsession and eroticism disclosed in an adequate pace. The development of the lead characters is perfect, disclosing two lonely and obsessed women, one compulsive and loathed by everybody around her, and the other that is the object of desire of the old teacher, her husband and a young student. The result is one of the best movies that I have recently seen. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Notas Sobre Um Escândalo" ("Notes on a Scandal")
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A strong, character-driven take on a genre that too often is excessive and tiresome
bob the moo11 December 2007
Barbara Covett is a history teacher who lives alone and is comparatively friendless. The one woman she was friendly with has moved on to another school in a better area but she still has her cat and her diary. When young art teacher Sheba Hart starts in the new term, Barbara keeps her distance to feel her out but she finds quite a nice woman with whom she thinks she can start a friendship. However the discovery of a scandalous secret in Sheba's life means that the relationship takes a darker turn.

From a distance you could see this film as yet another entry into the Fatal Attraction / Single White Female genre in the way that it is essentially about a "normal" relationship that turns sour as it becomes steadily more evident that the "normal" person is actually a tad unhinged. However does this mean that we are going through the motions here and that we will end up with a Dench/Blanchett fight like it's some sort of Bafta Special of Celebrity Wrestling? Well thankfully no. The narrative does head this way to a point of course but it remains engaging and grounded, mainly down to the fact that the story is not strictly one of this specific relationship but rather it is the story of Barbara. This is clear from the fact that the only narration or inner thoughts we get to hear are from her and, although it is not told from her perspective, it is clear that she is the subject of the film rather than Sheba (who is Barbara's subject).

The film paints out a convincingly real Barbara and in a way she reminded me a little of the "Lady of Letters" from Alan Bennett's Talking Heads. In her own world and journal she has developed this aloof attitude of one who is lonely but has convinced herself that she is more than happy to be so. But yet she also still has this edge of desperation, of being so much more needy than she will ever recognise. It is a very well written part and it goes without saying that Dench plays it perfectly – delivering in the detail and reigning in any potential for "bunny boiling". The story is well delivered and it is the characters that prevent you really questioning the internal logic too much because it does all convince both within itself but more or less within the wider world as well.

Eyre's direction is good in terms of controlling his cast even if it does feel every inch a BBC TV film that has gotten ahead of itself. Blanchett works well opposite Dench; she knows that the film is not about her character even if her character is key in telling it and her performance is pitched well to reflect this. As another user has already humorously said, Bill Nighy is good as the Bill Nighy character but I was upset that Phil Davis did not get more to do as he is very good at the type of character he played here. Simpson is well cast and makes his character work pretty well considering the demands put on him by the narrative – something about his Northern Irish accent that makes me believe it (!).

Overall then an engaging and well-delivered film. At first glance it is another crazy stalker movie but really it is much more than that as the characters are well written and convincing (even if aspects of the narrative aren't to the same degree) and the strength of the lead performances almost goes without saying as a given.
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10/10
the title sounds a little bit like "Snakes on a Plane"
lee_eisenberg20 May 2007
I expect Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett to play very good roles, but I couldn't have predicted the intensity of "Notes on a Scandal". Portraying school official Barbara (Dench) discovering teacher Sheba (Blanchett) having an affair with a student and using it against her, the whole thing keeps you on the edge of your seat. Far from the kindly, aristocratic roles with which she's most associated, Dench creates a cold, vicious character. And yet, seeing the actions of both women, you can't really sympathize with either one. Not surprisingly, it all leads to some pretty ugly consequences.

Anyway, don't start this movie expecting either woman to play the sort of roles in which you've seen them before. They both come across as kind of vile, even if they have good qualities. And they both do a great job with it. Judi Dench certainly deserved her Oscar nomination (although I'm glad that they gave Helen Mirren the award). Also starring Bill Nighy.

And yes, I thought that the title sounded a little bit like "Snakes on a Plane". Just imagine Judi Dench saying something like "I've had it with these mother***king notes on this mother***king scandal!"
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7/10
Notes on a Scandal
jboothmillard15 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I had heard about and seen a trailer for this cool sounding drama, and I also heard about the leading actress being nominated the Academy Award, so I had to see if the hype I got would live up to the film itself, from director Richard Eyre (Iris). Basically, Barbara Covett (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Dame Judi Dench) is a bitter, cynical and lonely history teacher loathed by fellow staff members and students in a London high school nearing retirement. In her spare time she writes a diary every day and taking care of her cat Portia, and then she meets the new art teacher Sheba Hart (Oscar and Golden Globe nominated Cate Blanchett), and she dedicates all the time she can to spending time with her. After helping her deal with two students, Sheba and Barbara are pretty much best friends, and she gets to meet Sheba's family, twenty years older husband Richard Hart (Bill Nighy), teenage daughter Polly (Juno Temple) and Downs Syndrome suffering son Ben (Max Lewis). Barbara feels like her life is changing for the better, until she spots Sheba making love with fifteen year old student Steven Connolly (Andrew Simpson), and Sheba foolishly confesses to Barbara about the affair. Barbara agrees to hide the truth from the school headmaster, but she also sees the opportunity to manipulate Sheba and get a lot closer to her. Tragedy occurs in Barbara's world though when cat Portia is put to sleep suffering a really bad illness, and Sheba wasn't around with her when she wanted, she had to attend son Max's first stage play. Barbara decides to take personal revenge, when teacher Brian Bangs (Collision's Philip 'Phil' Davis) comes round confessing that he has feelings for the married Sheba, that is when she sneakily says that she has heard rumours of Sheba being with Steven Connolly. Soon enough the press are all over the school, Connolly's parents come round furious at Sheba, and husband Richard kicks her out, and Barbara is the only person she count on. Sheba discovers in the trash bag one of Barbara's pages from her diary about what she really thinks about her and her family, and she is fuming, slapping Barbara sounding like she loves her, and she blows out to the mob outside the house. In the end, Sheba goes back to Richard before being put in prison for her paedophilia crime, jobless Barbara is once again alone, but she finds time to make a new friend in a woman on a bench named Annabel (Is Anybody There?'s Anne-Marie Duff). Dench is a cross between the secretly evil and lesbian like but nice Nurse Ratched, and the also secretly evil but helpful Mrs. Danvers, an intense performance as the nasty spinster, and also Oscar nominated Blanchett does pretty well as the naive character. I agree with the critics that the melodramatic ending didn't have enough kick, if I was Blanchett I would have taken the diary notes to the police and got her in the nick as well, but never mind, a good psychological drama. It was nominated the Oscars for Best Music, Original Score for Philip Glass, and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, it was nominated the BAFTAs for the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film, and Best Adapted Screenplay, and it was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay. Very good!
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6/10
Not so obscure object of desire
rmax30482311 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This wouldn't be much of a movie without the performances of the principals, namely Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, because the story itself is a little like a soap opera. Dench is a lonely and bitter older woman, starved for love and sex. She teaches at the same school as Blanchett. Blanchett teaches art in the most general sense of the word. She has an older husband, who's fun, a snotty teen daughter and a son with Down's syndrome. She's not exactly starved for anything. Her life is not just busy but a little chaotic. At the same time she's flattered by the attentions of a horny, manipulative student of hers. The problem is that he's only fifteen, but it's a problem that both Blanchett and the boy manage to work through without any great problems.

Dench wants to seduce Blanchett too. Her intentions are far more inclusive and demanding than the kid's. She wants to break up Blanchett's family and have Blanchett move in with her. Dench confides all this to her diary, which, as any politician can tell you, is going to turn out to be a great big mistake. Because Dench learns about the kid and, rebuffed by Blanchett, squeals on her and has her fired. Blanchett is so dumb that she has no idea that Dench is doing all this sub rosa. So the two ladies DO in fact move in together, but Blanchett thinks it's just "friendship", not an "affair," until she finds and reads through Dench's journal in a scene reminiscent of Charlotte Haze's finally discovering Humbert Humbert's diary. This leads to a break up of the nascent "affair." Blanchett goes home to her forgiving husband. Dench continues trying to pick up attractive young women in Hampstead Heath.

This is a woman's fantasy, with Blanchett as the central figure. Everyone desires her and some love her. They fight over her. And she's perfectly INNOCENT -- well, almost. In the end, she is even victimized by the press, a scene in which the entire movie collapses in upon itself. Everything goes hysterical and berserk -- the direction, the actress, the story, the score. Blanchett comes out ahead in the end. She's gotten what she wanted -- love from her family, sex with a young stallion, and she's crushed the Machiavellian Dench.

Blanchett really is a knockout too. Not just because she's conventionally attractive but because she informs her character with such warmth and generosity. She's a Jungian sensation type, hungry for stimulus. And in seeking it she seems almost to be doing those around her a favor, or trying to. She manages, for instance, to convince herself that that guileful teen, the one who calls her up and says filthy things to her, the one who lies about his family's tragedies, just needs some physical reassurance. She's doing him a favor by sleeping with him. It has nothing to do with her or with the fact that, like all fifteen-year-old boys, this kid is a biological dynamo. What a coincidence.

I felt a lot sorrier for Dench, the putative villain of the piece, who also winds up fired for not spilling the beans immediately upon learning that there were beans to be spilled. She's old. And she's not attractive. She has only her cat for company. (And her diary.) No one at the school likes her. Her attempts at being friendly are rather like an iceberg breaking away from the polar cap. She's as selfish as they come, without knowing it. When a man is old and homely, it's tough enough. For an unpleasant woman living alone, with no family or friends, with no job, it can be a disaster because she is truly socially bankrupt. Let her jot down her history of bitchery in that journal. It's the only thing she has.

Well, I ought to mention that this is in no way a courtroom drama. When the affair is uncovered, Blanchett is fired and that's that. There's not much sex in it either. It's all about intrigue.
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7/10
A tale of magnificent compliance
moonspinner5522 June 2017
Friendless, bitter history teacher at a bustling British high school is at first appalled by--and then strangely drawn to--a new arrival: the lovely, earthy young art teacher who wants everyone to fall in love with her. The flirtatious nature of this ethereal newcomer draws a strapping 15-year-old student into the picture, a sticky situation of which the spinster becomes well aware, eventually using the turn of events to her advantage. For the better part of an hour, director Richard Eyre hypnotically weaves an intriguing web of mismatched lives intersecting within secret complicity and, ultimately, tragedy. Working from Zoe Heller's novel "What Was She Thinking: Notes on a Scandal", screenwriter Patrick Marber creates an absorbing whirlpool of emotional characters and private feelings, while Judi Dench's elderly Barbara alternately seethes and smiles like a Cheshire cat. Both Dench and Cate Blanchett are amazing, however Eyre allows a few of the supporting players too much slack, and the melodrama which takes over in the final third becomes overwrought as a result. Still quite good, with a dangerously dreamy ambiance sweeping its dueling divas up in a cloud of conflict and little gold stars. *** from ****
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Dench and Blanchett are superb in this drama of two flawed ladies.
TxMike15 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Judi Dench is Barbara Covett, long time high school teacher. As the story unfolds we sense that she is the wise one, the stabilizing force. As the story moves further we begin to sense that she might be quite different from what she first seems.

Cate Blanchett is Sheba Hart, the new, naive teacher. Early on she is seen trying to break up a fight between two students, and Covett eventually does it just by raising her voice. We initially suspect that Sheba might have some issues, and she does.

Bill Nighy has become one of my favorite actors, but I never knew who he was before "Love Actually" (2003). Here he is Richard Hart, Sheba's older husband who had been her professor in an earlier time.

SPOILERS. Sheba attracts the attention of a student (played by a real 16 year old actor) and in spite of her protestations gives in to his advances. When Barbara finds out, she sees it as an opportunity to control the situation for herself. She has romantic intentions towards Sheba and tells her she will keep it to herself if Sheba vows to terminate the relationship with the boy immediately. Then attempts to get Sheba for herself. But Sheba does not terminate it, Barbara slyly pus out the word, the parents get very upset. But it turns out Barbara had had other such relationship issues with former teachers and is forced to resign. An excellent character study. Dench is remarkably good and convincing.
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The crimes of Miss Barbara Covett
dbdumonteil14 June 2009
Although too old to play a teacher,Mrs Dench is so good that she makes us forget it.One of the most terrifying teacher I've ever seen (it might be the teacher of my nightmares),her frustrated lesbian fond of cats whose hatred for men knows no bounds will blow your mind.Matching her every step of the way (and it was not an easy task) is Blanchett's portrayal of a "normal' "nice" and a bit naive young art teacher .Bill Nighy gives good support and the incredible domestic fight reaches peaks of violence (one has to search his memory to find an equivalent:maybe "who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?")as the vicious old history teacher savor every second of the quarrel.

Dench literally mesmerizes the viewer who winds up panting for breath . Be prepared for a shock!
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10/10
Two great actresses in a powerful psychological drama
blanche-228 May 2011
Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett star in "Notes on a Scandal," a 2006 film directed by Richard Eyre. Zoe Heller's novel was adapted by Patrick Marber.

Dench plays Barbara Covett, a teacher in a British high school who fits the classic old-fashioned idea of "spinster" -- older, plain, and living with her cat. Angry and bitter, she's a lesbian who latches onto women she can't have, befriends them, builds up a fantasy in her mind about the person and her relationship with that person, becomes a nuisance, and winds up feeling hurt and betrayed when she is ultimately rejected. Covett keeps a very detailed journal.

Into this web comes the flighty new art teacher, Sheba (Cate Blanchett), to whom Barbara is very attracted. They become friends. Barbara learns that Sheba is a free spirit who feels a little trapped by her home life, which includes a much older husband (Bill Nighy) and a child with Downs syndrome. Then, by accident, Barbara sees Sheba having sex with a 15-year-old student. She confronts Sheba but promises not to report her, but the affair must end. The secret they share becomes a form of emotional blackmail.

This is a truly excellent drama with some of the best acting I've ever seen. Judi Dench is remarkable and in this rigid, jealous, deeply disturbed character, she manages to find a little humor as well. Cate Blanchett, a chameleon if there ever was one, looks absolutely beautiful and is great as a confused, needy woman. The final scene between the women is both disturbing and magnificent.

Highly recommended. "Notes on a Scandal" is a disturbing, emotional film, deeply involving, and a must see.
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8/10
minor quibbles aside, this is one of the sharpest tragic-comedies this year, certainly regarding obsession and psychological mind-games
Quinoa19845 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Rarely have I seen Dame Judi Dench on top of her game as with Notes on a Scandal. She's usually a good show in any film she's in, but here she's perfect for the role of Barbara, who has been a professional teacher in a high school all her life, and is well respected, but can't seem to get enough of her attachments. There's a first one to a woman we won't see during the course of the film (chiefly because she put a retraining order on Barbara), and then enters in Sheba (Cate Blanchett, beautiful as ever, which may be a small part of the point), who becomes a focal point of attention for Barbara. And then when she discovers a terrible secret regarding her new 'friend'- an affair Sheba's having with one of her 15 year old students- there's a subtle form of blackmail that comes into play, and that becomes a further fantasy in her notebooks. Throughout all of this Dench never breaks from making this a totally believable, broken, but very solid woman who's gone through a life of misery only to want to seek happiness on the other side. One might almost feel sorry for her, in the end, if she wasn't such a dingbat. It might be also my favorite Dench performance I've seen to date (albeit I'm not all up on her complete catalog of work). She's not only convincing on the level of the obviousness of her character, vindictive but sweet, sensitive but cunning, and always with that underlying wit that the British have even in the most dire of circumstances, and I couldn't see anyone else playing her after a while.

But it's not just her that makes Notes on a Scandal worthwhile. The screenplay by Patrick Marber, from what must be an equally absorbing and humanistic book, is sharp and intelligent in ways that American filmmakers wish they could make mind-f***er movies like today. There's understatement here and there that undercuts some scenes, like when Sheba has to confess to Barbara after being caught with the boy the first time, a very slight tension each knows on each side. And even when things start to get worse and worse, and the truth comes out in the worst way possible (not just for Sheba, destroying her family which includes her husband played by the great Bill Nighy and her two dysfunctional children, but for Barbara as well), there's still some glimmers of dark comedy in there, which one might think would be impossible considering the dangerous pit-falls that could come with such topical, practically controversial subject matter. My favorite of this is when Sheba finds out her own darkest secret from Barbara, and inexplicably in her old 80s makeup again no less.

Not that I thought the film was without flaws- chiefly that, oddly enough, it wasn't long enough at 90 minutes (structurally it ended up working out, but considering how good the characters made the material out to be, I was surprised how quickly Marber and director Eyre got into the affair material), and Phillip Glass's musical accompaniment isn't quite fit with the rest of the material most of the time (I was wondering when Errol Morris would show up, truth be told). But I overlook these flaws mostly for the sake of how superlative everything else is done. The performances are all uniformly compelling and with equal measures of understandings in neuroses in one another, and the ending particularly leaves a chilling spell not unlike one found in the Cable Guy. It's probably the best "chick-flick" you haven't yet seen this year.
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9/10
Notes on A Scandal- A Great Test of A Film ***1/2
edwagreen14 April 2007
Splendid performances by Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett highlight this excellent film.

As a totally burned-out and frustrated veteran teacher, Dench gives a worthy Oscar nominated performance and she is equally matched by Blanchett as the novice teacher whose frustration causes her to begin a relationship with a student.

Unfortunately for Cate, Judi learns of the affair and uses it to her advantage to try to blackmail Cate into totally obeying her. She literally wants Blanchett to give up her family and life to be totally under the thumb of Dench.

A shocking film describing life in this British school. This could be any American school and shows us what education has come to.
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9/10
Judi Dench is Keeping tabs on Cate Blanchett
wes-connors20 December 2009
When US media discovered ratings rose with stories about attractive teachers having sex with their students, "all-news" stations jumped on the stories faster than rabbits in heat - and, the "public school teacher behaving badly" story became de rigueur, especially on FOX News. The footage arousing ratings points was of, generally, those hot blonde teachers. It's easy to see a young man falling in love with his pretty teacher; but, what did they see in the kids? Zoe Heller's novel "What Was She Thinking?" was a good read on the situation. And, "Notes on a Scandal" covers desire from several intriguing angles...

Now, this seems like something you'd rush into a juvenile television movie - and probably, there were several - but, this is a much better production, featuring some amazing, career peak performances. Perfectly repressed spinster Judi Dench (as Barbara Covett) and sexy art teacher Cate Blanchett (as Sheba Hart) go to the head of the class. Prowling young Andrew Simpson (as Steven Connolly) and older Bill Nighy (as Richard Hart) give their supporting roles unexpected passion. Director Richard Eyre gives it the suspense of a thriller; with Patrick Marber's literate script, he and the players never hit a false note.

********* Notes on a Scandal (12/25/06) Richard Eyre ~ Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Andrew Simpson, Bill Nighy
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Brilliant acting
Gordon-1115 July 2007
This film is about a teacher having sex with a 15 year old schoolboy, with drastic consequences.

The acting in this film is absolutely amazing. Cate Blanchett does very well as a lost and lonely woman, trapped in a less than satisfying marriage and the burden to care for a son with Down Syndrome. Her emotions are heartfelt and real, especially after she finds out the candid intentions of Judi Dench. Judi Dench on the other hand, plays a cunning woman with an unusual interest in Cate Blanchett. Her smile and looks are cunning in pivotal scenes. The scene where Judi Dench reaches out her hand over Cate Blanchett conveys a lot of unsaid undercurrents between the two characters. The plot itself is dramatic and gripping as well. This film should have won more Oscars!
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8/10
Jealousy reveals secrets.
michaelRokeefe28 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Richard Eyre directs this enticingly nasty little tale. More or less based on the 2003 novel by Zoe Heller, this movie is clever and sensational. A dewy eyed attractive Sheba Hart(Cate Blanchett)starts her first teaching assignment at St. George's School in the north of London. Some see through her supposed innocence. She at first is loathed by the school's spinster Barbara Covett(Judi Dench). With a stressful and mundane home life, the attractive Sheba enters an illicit sexual relationship with one of her fifteen year old students(Andrew Simpson). Barbara's lesbianism is not a secret among her peers. The elder and much respected teacher quickly turns her sights on the attractive Sheba; and Barbara mentions this in the journal she has written for years...placing a gold star on her better days. Barb with her hidden desires accidentally witnesses Sheba and her young paramour in the act of oral sex after school. Ms. Covett reveals her discovery to the winsome Sheba and begins her blackmail in hoping to consummate the lesbian affair she desires. In a jealous rage, Barbara blows the whistle on Hart in turn starting the ruin of her marriage and career. Sheba temporarily moves in with the elder teacher only to find well kept journals revealing the real intentions of her secret admirer's hidden desires.
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Langrish Comes Out
tedg13 February 2007
In previous comments, I have railed about Judi Dench, how she tries to bend the environment of the project to suit what she wants to do. Instead of understanding the requirements of the narrative and supporting it — and every worthwhile project will have some special notions here — she just plows ahead. Its perhaps a side effect of that quaint but repellent system of English titles. If you somehow comport yourself to fit the national story, you get a title and everyone henceforth provides a verbal curtsy.

Its tolerable enough in faux aristocratic bankers, and even non-actor celebrities. But actors are different members of society than anyone else. When they reach a level of familiarity, they can if they choose, form part of the story that we might choose to join. So I have been upset that Dench ruins movies because she is filling the role not required by the movie, but by an anachronistic class system.

And my most discouraging experience was with this very same director. She shared a role with Kate Winslet, Kate the young and Judi the old version. The whole point of the thing was how each was nested — or could be — in the other. Kate is fully capable of this; why she was chosen, but she has no partner. The thing was a disaster.

But here, Dench surprises. Perhaps it is because she actually appears together with her collaborator, someone every bit as capable as Kate. And the setup here is simpler: these are complements of each other, not versions of the same being. It works, at least so far as what the actors can do, and for that I am thankful.

The film as a whole fails, despite what we have in terms of the way the actors place themselves with each other. It fails because the director doesn't know how to allow them to place themselves in relation to us. I invite the reader to view a project that has Dench, is constructed the same way, but works. Its called "Langrish Goes Down." It also has a narrative wrapper in a diary of sorts, but there the diary (actually letters to no one) takes on its own agency and you have no idea how much of what you see is imagined or not. Dench there is perfect, just a miracle, and the film does what it is supposed to — it makes us unsettled in what we maintain as love outside.

Here, all you can do is allow the narrative and diary to be set up off to the side, not as our world, but as a sort of prop to let us know that this woman is a predator. Also it appears at the end as a plot device. Sure, there are some flashy moments. Sure we get to see Cate, and there is some resonance in having her energy wasted in playing a character whose energy is wasted. But except for the fact that we get to see Dench actually try, its a waste.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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8/10
Unpleasant but gripping
preppy-318 February 2007
Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) is a new art teacher at a high school in London. A history teacher (Judi Dench) takes a strange interest in her. She then discovers that Hart is having sex with a 15 year old boy (played by 16 year old Andrew Simpson). She confronts Hart with her knowledge and Hart pleads with her not to tell. She agrees...if Hart promises to be her friend. Then things get creepy...

Unpleasant story full of some very unlikable characters but I couldn't stop watching. The script is excellent and the direction is good too. Great music score too. But what puts this over are the performances--everyone is just excellent. Blanchett and Dench are just incredible--both play very needy unlikable characters but I actually found myself sympathizing with them! Simpson does not play his role like an innocent victim--he's clearly the aggressor and he came off as quite creepy. The sex (it's not love) affair between the two is quite harrowing--nothing is really shown though. Bill Nighby playing Banchett's husband also has an incredible scene where he explodes when he finds out about the affair. It all leads to a disturbing climax.

I'm only giving it an 8 because these people are pretty ill and unnerving to watch. Also Simpson's thick Irish accent made some of his dialogue incomprehensible. So it is good--but disturbing.
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7/10
Just see the movie
dbborroughs10 February 2007
I enjoyed this movie a great deal. The acting was excellent across the board and the story about the relationship of two school teachers and what transpires between them is involving. The problem for me was that in reading the reviews for the film I found that the reviewers revealed way too much about the plot. I found this to be one of those times when it was best to know as little as possible going in since there was a chance that knowing plot points might signal later revelations. Simply put the reviewers said too much so after a certain point it became clear what was going to happen, The result was that I enjoyed the film less than I might have other wise. Take my advice ignore what people say about the film and just see it
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9/10
Teachers Pet ...
writers_reign2 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
... or at they would if Judi Dench had her way. I'm slightly bemused at the critical comments I've read in the Press inasmuch as they seem almost startled that Judi Dench is playing Evil. Come on, fellas, she's an ACTRESS for God's sake and that's what actors DO. ACT. It appears she's paying the price for years of playing roles that enhance her natural Warmth, decency and, yes, Goodness, but she's only done Lady Macbeth so we shouldn't be - and I, for one, am not - surprised to discover that her individual spectrum is impressive. Surrounded by other fine actors of the calibre of Cate Blanchett and Bill Nighy she dominates the screen to the extent that Patrick Marber's screenplay, adapted in turn from a novel by Zoe Heller, gets lost in the shuffle as does the direction of Richard Eyres. I suspect that a second viewing would reveal the richness of both the screenplay and the principal co-stars but the initial viewing belongs to Dench, who is beyond Magnificent.
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8/10
She's the one I have waited for.
lastliberal13 December 2007
This is one part horror film and partly a commentary of sociological events that are all to common in this country right now.

After an almost exclusively male role as sexual predators, we hear more and more stories of female teachers who have prey upon children. Debra Lefebvre is in trouble again and Mary Kay Letourneau, Catherine Paul, and here in Florida, Jennifer Tarkenton was just arrested for having sex with a 14-year-old boy. She could have waited another couple of years as 16 is the age of consent in most states (Males should teach in Iowa or South Carolina as 14 is legal - and we give these people preference in selecting our President?) See Cate Blanchett trapped in that scenario, we cannot feel sorry for her, but I can celebrate a dramatically outstanding performance.

I can also experience some schadenfruede as she gets to be the prey in the horror portion of the film.

Judi Dench was also magnificent as the predator who sought out young women to satisfy her lusts. No laws broken, but she was scary as hell in a Dracula role.

Kudos also to Bill Nighy as the suffering husband. Super performance.
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8/10
Intriguing, engrossing drama
grantss16 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Intriguing, engrossing drama.

Barbara (played by Judi Dench) is a history teacher at a high school. Old, old-fashioned, curmudgeonly, alone...and lonely. However, a new, young art teacher, Sheba (played by Cate Blanchett), joins the staff and they become friends. Barbara then stumbles upon the fact that Sheba is having an affair with a 15-year old student. Now, what to do with this information...?

A great, tense tale of manipulation and obsession. Good twists, none of which are gratuitous. The villains are not always obvious, and neither are the heroes...

Great work by Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett in the main roles. Dench got a Best Leading Actress Oscar nomination for her performance and Blanchett a Best Supporting Actress nomination (though I would view them both being in leading roles).

On the negative side - the ending feels a bit subdued after the great build-up. The ending wasn't bad and does close off the story adequately, but could have been much better. I was expecting something more gritty and possibly even shocking after the tension created in the rest of the movie.
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9/10
One of the unjustly overlooked movies of 2006.
Boba_Fett11383 October 2007
This is perhaps one of the most overlooked movies of 2006. Sure, it got lots of good critical acclaim and it was even nominated for 4 Oscar's but not that many people actually went to see this movie in theaters. I'll admit that Judi Dench as an old lesbian doesn't sound like the most appealing movie but of course when you still give the movie a chance the movie and its story have much more to offer.

It's not necessarily one of the best or most clever written movies of the past years but the execution of it all is just top-class. It's a quite unusual and also daring story, mainly because of its perspective and characters. It therefor at all times remain a good and interesting movie to keep your attention and interest throughout.

But of course what really makes this movie is the Judi Dench character. She knows how to bend and manipulate the situation to her own advantage, only purely for her own personal gain and pleasure. It's a real disturbed character and definitely has some issues but in the movie she isn't portrayed as an insane psycho who would do anything to get what she wants, even though that still is what the story is all about. It's thanks to Judi Dench that the character still always keeps an humane side and a side that you could understand and perhaps even care for. It's a real great character for Dench to add to her impressive list of characters. This is perhaps her most villainous role out of her career. Her character begins as a quite normal one, that you even start to care for, but slowly and steadily it becomes obvious throughout the movie that this is one disturbed character. I also like how its only implied throughout the movie that the Judi Dench character is lesbian. The word is never said and nobody speaks of it. I don't know, just thought that this was a nice touch. Just let the viewers make all of the obvious assumptions without explaining everything formulaic and in simple movie telling form.

Also of course the make-up helps a lot. Judi Dench really looks like an ugly old woman in the movie, though in real life she is still good looking for her age.

Cate Blanchett also plays a good role. This must have been a tough role for her but she manages very well at keeping her character humane and more easy to identify with as well. Bill Nighy once more also plays a great and subtle role. His role was sort of restrained in the movie, which really was needed for the story and to not distract from the movie its main issues. I also liked how they used 'non-actor' looking and acting persons for the teachers roles. I found the atmosphere among- and the looks of the teachers very convincing in the movie. I've actually spend lots of time in the teachers room, so I know what I'm talking about. No, I spend there not as a punishment but as work, not that there's much difference though.

The movie does a very good job at creating a realistic and easy to identify with atmosphere and situations, even despite the tough and unusual subjects. It does this trough the dialog and acting but also with the help of the fine directing and story-telling, despite some flaws in it, that creates the atmosphere of the movie. It's the sort of movie that looks and feels like it all could really happen and why not to any of you? The movie feels as if it's based on a true story, even though it's not. It's based on the novel "What Was She Thinking: Notes on a Scandal" by Zoe Heller.

I also liked the Philip Glass musical score for the movie. I'm not really a Philip Glass fan in terms of that I ever sit down and listen to his scores but his scores always suit the movies and its atmosphere well. I think that's also the reason why he already has been nominated for 3 Oscar's, including for this movie.

A great movie!

9/10

http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/
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