Thursday, September 24, 2009

Notes on a Scandal

Obviously, this film attracts you because of the description of the synopsis on the DVD's back cover. Besides, the film lives up to your expectations mostly because of the wicked duo made of Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. All in all, Notes on a Scandal is one of the best British films I've seen.

Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) is a History teacher in High school. She's a lonely person and her most intimate relationship is with her personal diary. When Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) joins the school as the new art teacher, Barbara feels that a friendship between Sheba and her is developing. However, when Barbara discovers that Sheba is having an affair with Steven Conolly (Andrew Simpson), a 15 years old student, her jealousy and her anger is gradually put on display.

Prior to watching this film, I didn't know anything about it and I didn't read the novel by Zöe Heller. Nevertheless, in the end, I was glad to discover this film. In fact, for a film that mixes elements of drama and thriller, Notes on a Scandal is nicely paced. Besides, the film skilfully brings us to the climax because viewers are just waiting to see how the character of Sheba will be going down.

However, one might feel - after going through the climax - that Notes on a Scandal's plot has a minor lack of logic. In fact, after the affair between Sheba and Steven is revealed in the British media, we know that only three people knew about the affair: Sheba, Steven and Barbara. The fact that Sheba doesn't (in the middle of the film) have any thoughts about who (either Barbara or Steven) might have leaked the information about her affair diminishes the psychological suspense for as long as the middle part lasts.

Despite a minor flaw in the script, Notes on a Scandal can rely on a great performance from its cast, especially from its leading ladies, Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. Without aiming for sensationalism, Dench's and Blanchett's expose quite well their own character's fragility and aggressiveness in their own way. As someone who doesn't yell that much, Judi Dench showcases her talent to play a manipulative woman. As for Cate Blanchett, her performance about someone who can be nice, naive and tough is so credible.

Finally, while the film might not be perfect because of a minor flaw in the script, the film, as a whole, is gripping and smart. Besides, if you have the patience to, you'll be delighted to see how the film hides its layers of depth before your eyes.

Rating: 3.5/5

Origin:UK (2006)
Length:92 minutes
Screenplay:Patrick Marber
Director:Richard Eyre
Starring:Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett and Bill Nighy

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