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Notes on a Scandal (2006)

One Woman's Mistake Is Another's Opportunity...

Original Title : Notes on a Scandal
Director : Richard Eyre
Writer : Patrick Marber
Zoe Heller
Genre : Drama
Country : UK
Language : English
Producer : Robert Fox, Redmond Morris, Scott Rudin
Music : Philip Glass
Photography : Chris Menges
Distributor : 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment Japan, 20th Century Fox Netherlands, 20th Century Fox, 20th Century Fox, 20th Century Fox de Argentina, Bontonfilm, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox-Warner, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century-Fox Film
MPAA Rating : Rated R for language and some aberrant sexual content.
IMDB ID : 0465551
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poster for "Notes on a Scandal" by Richard Eyre (2006)
Notes on a Scandal (2006) - Richard Eyre
 

Starring

Judi Dench Barbara Covett
Cate Blanchett Sheba Hart
Tom Georgeson Ted Mawson
Michael Maloney Sandy Pabblem
Joanna Scanlan Sue Hodge
Shaun Parkes Bill Rumer
Emma Kennedy Linda
Syreeta Kumar Gita
Andrew Simpson Steven Connolly
Philip Davis Brian Bangs (as Phil Davis)
Wendy Nottingham Elaine Clifford
Tameka Empson Antonia Robinson
Leon Skinner Davis
Bill Nighy Richard Hart
Juno Temple Polly Hart
Max Lewis Ben Hart
Debra Gillett Lorraine
Barry McCarthy Dave
Julia McKenzie Marjorie
Adrian Scarborough Martin
Jill Baker Sheba&
Diana Berriman Marcia
Alice Bird Saskia
Benedict Taylor Eddie
Miranda Pleasence Eddie&
Jonathan Speer Vet
Stephen Kennedy Mr. Connolly
Derbhle Crotty Mrs. Connolly
Catherine Drew Newsreader
Anne-Marie Duff Annabel
 

Plot

Barbara Covett is a veteran and cynical schoolteacher who is close to retirement. She is barely tolerated by her less brilliant and acerbic colleagues who know nothing about her private life which consists mainly of taking care of Portia, her aging cat, and spending countless hours alone. The only means she has found to take the edge off her desperate loneliness is writing in her journal. When Sheba Hart, a younger, attractive woman, joins the faculty as an art teacher, Barbara watches her from afar and has nothing but caustic things to say in her diary about her clothing and her care-free manner. Despite her disdain for this woman, Barbara finds herself reaching out to her. Sheba responds by inviting her to dinner at her house to meet Sheba's lecturer husband, who is twenty years her senior, and their two children, a sexy and rebellious 16-year-old daughter and a younger boy with Downs Syndrome. Instead of opening herself to these people, Barbara immediately sees them as competition to be beaten in the battle for Sheba's attention. Later, when Barbara discovers her new friend in a classroom having sex with Steven, a 15-year-old from the school who has artistic talent, she realizes that knowledge of this secret gives her power over Sheba which she can use for her own purposes. Barbara promises to not tell anyone but insists that the affair must end immediately. Sheba says she will but finds herself drawn back to the boy again and again. Sheba seems uneasy with Barbara's friendship and is appalled when she discovers the older woman might have a sexual interest in her. The tenuous relationship between the two women reaches a crisis point when Barbara's cat is dying and she asks Sheba to go with her to the vet. She chooses to go with her family to see their son in a play instead. In revenge, Barbara sets in motion the scandal that will rock both their lives in ways they never imagined.
 

Comments

Watching the emotionally intense black comedy, "Notes on a Scandal," you, too, may feel like its main character, Barbara, who reflects in one of her many voice-overs, "The opera has begun and I have a front-row seat." Directed by Richard Eyre ("Iris," "Stage Beauty" and the exceptional TV version of "Suddenly, Last Summer" with Maggie Smith and Natasha Richardson), "Notes" bravely wades into modern-day Grand Guignol as the tension between its two female stars heads inevitably toward a showdown.Patrick ("Closer") Marber's melodramatic screenplay cleverly makes use of Barbara's voice-overs as she scribbles in her diary and makes jaded, bitter observations about the world around her. Abundant voice-overs usually point toward shortcomings in a drama, but here they provide irony and serve to enhance the dialog. In her juiciest role since "Mrs Brown," Judi Dench brings an element of sympathy to Barbara, a closeted, self-loathing lesbian school teacher attracted to the new art teacher, Sheba, played by Cate Blanchett. Madly hoping to wrest the heterosexual Sheba from her husband and two children, one of whom has Down Syndrome, Barbara stumbles upon Sheba's sexual dalliance with a 15-year-old student. In a Machiavellian turn, Barbara hopes to manipulate Sheba by maintaining her secret . . . with strings attached. Need I add that all does not go well?In fact, escalating histrionic fireworks ensue. Blanchett holds her own in this emotional and physical battle royal, capping her incredible year (2006) that also included outstanding performances in "Babel" and "The Good German." As Sheba's husband, Richard, Bill Nighy also comes through with a powerhouse performance. The moody score by Philip Glass is icing on the cake.At a tidy 92 minutes, "Notes on a Scandal" is highly concentrated and vivid. The recently announced Golden Globe nominations include Dench, Blanchett and Marber, so we can expect Oscar nods as well.
 
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