Notes on a Scandal

Had the chance to see Notes on a Scandal last weekend, which I’ve been anxiously anticipating since I first saw the preview. Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench, the incomparable Bill Nighy: it’s an instant recipe for success. I was not disappointed.

Dench plays Barbara Covett, a rather embittered spinster schoolteacher who becomes fascinated by Blanchett’s Sheba Hart. The “Notes” of the title refers to Barbara’s diaries. Ostensibly about Sheba, we nonetheless learn an awful lot about Barbara, who is less than psychologically stable. Actually when I think about it, both women are not too stable (Sheba has an affair with a 15-year-old–iffy ground there) and they are certainly both rather unhappy. Anyhow, Barbara learns about the affair and by revealing this to Sheba, manages to insinuate herself into Sheba’s life to an uncomfortable degree.

Notes on a Scandal is very much a character-driven film and it’s a very good one. The screenplay, the direction, the acting–all of it is superb. The Oscar nods are very well deserved.

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