Director: Richard Eyre
Starring: Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Bill
Nighy, Andrew Simpson, Phil Davis, Michael Maloney, Juno Temple,
RunTime: 1 hr 33 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scenes)
Opening Day: 15 February 2007
OUR REVIEW ON THE ORIGINAL ZOE HELLER'S NOVEL
Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) joins St. George's as the new
art teacher, Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) senses a kindred
spirit. But Barbara is not the only one drawn to her. Sheba
begins an illicit affair and Barbara becomes the keeper of
her secret. NOTES ON A SCANDAL is a story of loneliness, loyalty,
envy and love.
Truth be told, Dame Judi Dench has always given this reviewer
it her cold portrayal of M in the James Bond series, or her
well-to-do widow role in Stephen Frear’s Mrs. Henderson
Presents (2005), or her six-minute Oscar-winning turn as Queen
Elizabeth in John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love (1998)
– her quiet and weighty performances always feel cold
this works to Dench’s advantage every time, and with
her latest work, the 72-year-old shows us she is not one to
be messed around with.
her most daring role to date, Dench plays a history teacher
who discovers a new teacher’s dirty little secret. Games
of power and control are played in the unsettling background
of the seemingly peaceful neighbourhood. What originally started
as a friendship between two female teachers begins to evolve
into an intense drama about obsession and intrigue.
character is given the opportunity to provide some really
sharply-written voiceovers which will make you laugh and send
chills down your spines at the same time. It must be the magnetic
force of her voice, but every line she says makes you stand
on her side. This calmly powerful performance has earned the
veteran a Best Actress nomination at the upcoming Oscars.
if one potent performance is not enough, this film spoils
movie fans with Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of the victimized
teacher who undergoes some really upsetting emotional upheaval.
Her quiet suffering eventually culminates in an explosive
scene which will make you sit up and watch. The Oscar winner
is also nominated in the forthcoming Academy Awards in the
Best Supporting Actress category.
Nighy plays Blanchett’s husband with a polished front
that blends in nicely with his two female leads.
apt run time of 93 minutes is also welcome with the recent
slew of overlong and pompous movies that are flocking the
cinemas. The momentum is kept upbeat with Patrick Marber’s
(Closer, Asylum) focused adaptation of Zoe Heller’s
2003 novel. Marber’s efforts are also recognized with
a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination nod, giving film fans
another reason to watch this movie.
fourth nomination for this movie at the 79th Academy Awards
is for Philip Glass’ (The Hours, The Illusionist) pressing
music score, which works perfectly for the mood of the movie,
with its evocative and rich treatment. It is definitely one
of the recent rare underscores which complements the picture
these commendable aspects of the Richard Eyre-directed picture
come together to disturbingly affecting effect, especially
when Dench’s character shows her true colours. A member
of the audience during the media preview showed how offended
he was with the plot by hurling some unkind words, much to
the surprise of this tolerating reviewer.
means that the picture may not go down well with the mainstream
movie crowd who is used to blockbusters with higher appeal
factor. That is a pity, because this movie does have some
thought-provoking messages about loneliness and companionship
which deserves some attention.
psychological thriller’s imminent tragedy will have
you reflecting on how it mirrors our lives in the most disquieting
(Powerful performances aside, this refined film takes a good
look at human nature’s darker side)
Review by John Li