'Notes on a Scandal' Movie: Brilliant Judi Dench & Cate Blanchett

Notes on a Scandal Cate Blanchett Judi Dench
Notes on a Scandal with Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench.

Directed by Richard Eyre, Notes on a Scandal is a must-see for those who enjoy a cleverly constructed plot that explores human relationships to the core.

The story follows jaded older teacher Barbara Covett (Judi Dench), who contrives to ensnare young and beautiful new teacher Bathsheba Hart (Cate Blanchett). In the meantime, 15-year old student Steve Connolly (Andrew Simpson) entices Bathsheba into a turbulent affair, while Sheba's husband (Bill Nighy) and children all tear at Sheba's loyalties.

Credible characters fill Patrick Marber's clever script, (from Zoe Heller's novel): the older feeble staff member with vain hopes of attracting the new filly in the staff room, the management-minded headmaster, the happily pregnant young teacher, the unruly and unquenchably energetic pupils in noisy classrooms and playgrounds, in addition to the defiant quips of the teacher past her prime.

The dramatic events found in Notes on a Scandal are impregnated with cohesive symbolic themes, scenes, and characters, ranging from biblical and literary connections (e.g., the choice of the name “Bathsheba”) to mirror images of power relationships (e.g., the older teacher intent on seducing the younger one, while recoiling in horror at similar behavior from her supposed protégée). The superb cast captures unforgettable moments of stillness, allowing us to follow their changing thoughts as they negotiate their way through tumultuous relationships.

Inextricably combined with the action is Philip Glass' excellent score, which reflects the characters' heightened passions and beliefs. At times, Glass' music mixes classical style and form with intriguingly complicit inner themes of darker suspense.

In sum, Notes on a Scandal is a gripping, tightly designed, superbly acted drama that is not to be missed.

Note: A version of this Notes on a Scandal review was initially posted in February 2007.

© Rosemary Westwell

Notes on a Scandal (2006). Dir.: Richard Eyre. Cast: Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Bill Nighy, Andrew Simpson, Phil Davis, Anne-Marie Duff. Scr.: Patrick Marber; from Zoe Heller's novel.

Arts Critic Rosemary Westwell has written for several publications, including “The Independent” and “Musical Opinion.”

4 Academy Award Nominations

Best Actress: Judi Dench

Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett

Best Adapted Screenplay Patrick Marber

Best Original Score: Philip Glass

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{ 2 Comments }

  1. aliceinwonderland says:

    this is my FAVORITE movie! seriously. the scenes are so hot, especially when steven and sheba have affairs. one of my favorite scenes is when sheba fights with barbara in the end :D one of the best fights, and i love the dialogue. my fave character is cate blanchett, apart from the fact that shes my favorite actress. she looks completely stunning in this movie and i love her acting, her expressions, CLOTHES, EVERYTHING:] steven..he looks hot in some parts. i would say when the environment is dark? because when there is a lot of light he doesnt look that hot :S barbara..she simply disgusts me physically. altho as an actress, she was rly good at acting in this movie.

  2. Marcus Tucker says:

    Judi Dench was delicious in this film, too bad everyone was so intent on finally giving Helen Mirren a long overdue Oscar to recognize Judi Dench for one of her very best performances.