God is my Director

Youth ministry, movies, no drugs and a variable amount of Rock ‘n Roll

Notes on Notes on a Scandal

Posted by Martin on February 12, 2007

Spent an enjoyable evening watching the Oscar-nominated Dame Judi Dench (the real Queen of British cinema, sorry Helen) chewing up the scenery to marvellous effect in Richard Eyre’s Notes on a Scandal. Judi plays stone-faced lesbian battleaxe Barbara opposite Cate Blanchett’s wispy hippy Sheba, and without question steals the show.

Having spent many years bitter and alone teaching in a particularly nasty London comprehensive school, Barbara latches on Sheba and becomes a mentor and friend to her. Things turn nasty though, when Barbara catches her protégée in a sexual affair with a 15-year-old pupil. As the levels of deceit burrow deeper, the tension escalates, and more and more lives become sucked into the maelstrom that Sheba has created.

It’s a very British film – although the drama is significant, it never spills over the edge of realism – and so when the tension all gets too much, no-one pulls a gun or reaches for an ice pick. Yet my real only criticism of the film is that the stakes never really feel high enough; and so I left the cinema wondering if I’d accidentally missed the third act.

That said, the movie provides both a masterclass in acting from Dame Judi, and a powerful illustration of the destructive powers of lies. Well worth seeing, but probably on DVD.

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