Notes on a Scandal

The Oscar® viewing continues. This one is nominated for four awards: best Actress (Judi Dench), Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett), Best Adapted Screenplay (Patrick Marber, who also wrote Closer a couple of years earlier), and Best Score (Philip Glass).

Sheba (Blanchett) is the new art teacher, and gets lots of attention from teachers and students alike, because she is beautiful and friendly. Barbara (Dench) has been teaching at the same school forever, and is respected and/or feared, but not liked.

Sheba is married to a much older man (Richard, played by Bill Nighy), and they have two children, the younger of whom has Down’s Syndrome. As a new teacher, she is in somewhat over her head, so when Barbara offers friendship and help, she agrees.

There’s a lot more to the story than that, but I don’t want to give away too much. I enjoyed it quite a bit, although it did feel more like a stage play than most films, which some might not like. There is also a fair amount of voice over narration by Barbara, which seemed fine but which may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Dench is excellent. I especially liked a small scene where she arrived for the first time at Sheba and Richard’s house, and she silently conveyed her flustered state of mind. Not showy, but real. The rest of the cast is also first rate, and not just the nominated ones. I have to say that it’s a little harder to warm to Blanchett’s character because she is playing a character who makes some pretty stupid decisions, although you do believe that Sheba isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, so it makes sense.

So if you like well-written, semi-stagy, well acted films, check this one out.

I give it 3.5 stars out of 4 stars stars.

Seen 2/8/2007.

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