my good friend"
When new teacher
Sheba Hart (Blanchett) joins her high school, Barbara Covett (Dench) is
instantly intrigued. This young, beautiful, energetic but naÔve art teacher
soon becomes the centre of addition not only for the students but the rest
of the faculty. It is Barbara she bonds with however, as the experienced
battle-axe, as she calls herself, offers a mentor-like ear but her duties
as a friend taken to the limit when she witnesses Sheba having a liaison
with a fifteen year old student. Instead of reporting her to the headmaster
however, Barbara sees this as gaining a permanent friend that will never
leave her and do everything she asks.
Dame Judi Dench
is one of Britain's most respected and critically acclaimed actresses and
you know the kind of role she usually plays but you have never seen her
Based on the novel
by Zoe Heller, 'Notes on a Scandal' provides Judi Dench with a role like
she has never played before. The Oscar winning actress is famed for the
diversity of the roles she can play. She is equally at home in costume drama,
on TV or as the woman in charge of James Bond but she has never played someone
like Barbara Covett.
The old battleaxe
of the high school, history teacher Barbara finds solace in her lonely life
in her diary, noting down her thoughts and dreams about what life has to
offer her. The focus of her diary turns to new staff member Sheba Hart,
a young, beautiful art teacher who soon becomes the centre of attention
for the students and fellow members of staff. It is Barbara who she bonds
with however and the pair forms a mentor-like relationship and a growing
friendship. This all changes when Barbara witnesses Sheba being with a fifteen-year-old
boy. Instead of turning her in the authorities however but uses it as leverage
to make sure that Sheba is her friend forever. Manipulative, selfish and
downright cruel, this is Judi Dench as you have never seen her before and
she throws everything into the role.
With an actress
providing a powerhouse performance, you need someone as talented for her
to play off against and Cate Blanchett more than provides this. As Sheba,
she is a woman of means trying to find a challenge after raising a family
for the past fifteen years and she thinks that could be in teaching. Married
to a much older man and with a teenage daughter and disabled son, she sees
this as a way of finding a change and giving something back but she is drawn
into a situation that will change her life forever. Cate Blanchett excels
in the role, proving again that she is one of the best actresses working
today and the film needed someone of her calibre to be able to hold her
own playing opposite Judi Dench's performance.
There are also noticeable
performances from Bill Nighy, as Sheba's husband who is unaware of her infidelity
and questions her friendship with Barbara. This shows again that he is an
extremely gifted actor who is just at home in a drama as he is in a comedy.
There is also good performance from young Irish actor Andrew Simpson as
the object of Sheba's affections, schoolboy Steven Connolly.
'Notes on a Scandal'
is a powerful, reality and brilliantly played drama that, at sometimes,
isn't easy to watch. The film pulls no punches in storyline or subject matter
but it is the performances of Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett that make the
film completely riveting and one that will have you on the edge of your
Presented in Widescreen
1.85:1 Anamorphic with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the transfer is good.
by director Richard Eyre
The man at the helm for 'Notes on a Scandal' talks about adapting the award-winning
novel to the silver screen. The structure and differences between the novel
and the screenplay are discussed. Most importantly he talks about casting
and the performances of Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. He reveals the balance
between the two characters and how the two stars approached their characterisations,
playing for the most part, against type. This is a decent commentary and
one that is good for a single person.
Notes on a Scandal:
The Story of Obsession (12.21 mins)
Director Richard Eyre, novelist ZoŽ Heller, screenwriter Patrick Morber
and stars Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Andrew Simpson and Bill Nighy talk
about the differences between the structure of the novel and the movie script.
The group reveal how this is a story of two lonely women and two types of
Notes on a Scandal:
Behind the Scenes (5.12 mins)
Stars Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett and Bill Nighy talk about the characters,
their relationships and the portrayal of loneliness for each of the women.
with Cate Blanchett (2.05 mins)
Cate Blanchett talks passionately about the project and the character that
Director Richard Eyre, screenwriter Patrick Morber, novelist ZoŽ Heller
and stars Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett and Bill Nighy star is short featurettes
that were made for the 'Notes on a Scandal' website.
Watch the preview of the movie that was shown in theatres and on the Internet.
Previews of 'The Last King of Scotland', 'A Good Year', 'The Namesake' and
The DVD treatment
of 'Notes of a Scandal' is one that fans should be pleased with. The commentary
track is informative and the interviews and behind the scenes featurettes
offer an insight into the adaptation of the novel. This is another good
DVD package from Fox.
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