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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, sneaky little drama
Will Dame Judi ever present the the faintest trace of mediocity? In 'Notes On A Scandal', she treats us to an utterly compelling performance as Barbera Covett, an embittered journal-writing school teacher who develops an unhealthy obsession with fellow teacher Sheba Hart, played by the similarly fabulous Cate Blanchett.
Barbera's fascination grows when Sheba invites...
Published on 29 July 2007 by PaRiS jAcKsOn

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Psychological drama
This film showcases the fine talents of a strong female cast in Cate Blanchett, who plays Sheba Hart, the new art teacher at St George's in Islington, and Dame Judy Dench, who plays Barbara Covett, a brittle jaded veteran teacher nearing retirement who believes teaching is "crowd control" based on "cattle prods and prayer". The film is narrated via Barbara's diary...
Published on 9 July 2007 by SA Barratt


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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, sneaky little drama, 29 July 2007
This review is from: Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Will Dame Judi ever present the the faintest trace of mediocity? In 'Notes On A Scandal', she treats us to an utterly compelling performance as Barbera Covett, an embittered journal-writing school teacher who develops an unhealthy obsession with fellow teacher Sheba Hart, played by the similarly fabulous Cate Blanchett.
Barbera's fascination grows when Sheba invites her into the home she shares with her huspand and two children. But when she discovers Sheba's affair with a 15-year-old student, the older teacher slyly uses the information to weild greater power over the object of her obsession.
Based on Zoe Heller's super-successful novel, 'Notes On A Scandal' is a superb character study, the model of a tightly paced drama, but most of all, the scintillating showcase of one of Britain's finest acting talents.

An awsome Brit drama with a visious streak and biting menace. 8 OUT OF 10.

P.J.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Psychological drama, 9 July 2007
By 
SA Barratt "sam_barratt" (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
This film showcases the fine talents of a strong female cast in Cate Blanchett, who plays Sheba Hart, the new art teacher at St George's in Islington, and Dame Judy Dench, who plays Barbara Covett, a brittle jaded veteran teacher nearing retirement who believes teaching is "crowd control" based on "cattle prods and prayer". The film is narrated via Barbara's diary. Narration, either in first or third person, is often used to help the screenplay to bridge the gap between the original book and the movie. In this case, Zoe Heller's book is adapted for the screen by Patrick Marber. Cate Blanchett is translucent as Sheba and it is not surprising that lonely spinster Barbara falls in love with her, obsessively so. Sheba's life, seemingly perfect to an outsider, includes a much older husband, droll witty Richard (Bill Nighy), and two teenagers, one with Down's syndrome. When Sheba confesses to Barbara of having an affair with a 15 year old Irish student, Steven Connelly, played by Andrew Simpson, Barbara subtly blackmails Sheba in to becoming her close confidante. By not reporting Sheba to the authorities, Barbara imagines she has a free reign to ask anything of Sheba and that "No-one can violate our magnificent complicity". When Sheba chooses her family over Barbara, Barbara leaks a rumour of Sheba's affair which is soon corroborated.

This is a tight psychological drama fuelled by Barbara's loneliness and dread of dying alone, at times, however, we expect her to start boiling Sheba's pet rabbit. Equally, Sheba's affair with her art student is driven by loneliness in her marriage and the thrill of being chased by a man, albeit 15 but hardly innocent.

This is a movie about lies, deceit, loneliness and naivity. I'd recommend it if human drama is your cup of tea.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well delivered and straight to the point drama, 23 Jun 2007
By 
Mr. P. Datta "Pritthijit" (Stockton on Tees, Teesside) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Notes On A Scandal [2006] is a well delivered and straight to the point drama. As suggested by the title, the movie is about a scandal emerging that affects all parties. To elaborate on this point, it involves a veteran teacher (Judi Dench), a fresh art teacher (Cate Blanchett), her husband ( Billy Nighy) and the school. So much is at stake here at the expense of a scandal, which are prestige, marriage and career. How does it end? That is the general gist of the story.

Notes on a scandal is a moving and psychological story about how one's behaviour can change the course of life dramatically. It is about marriage and friendship being really challenged through tough times. The acting to the movie is first class with Cate Blanchett, Judi Denchi and Bill Nighy offering electrifying performances to bring the characters to life. With the cast the calibre like this, it no wonders genuine credibility is added in the movie with regards to the storyline.

The reason for not awarding a full 5 star, is that the movie is little too thin and simple in terms of story and really open in the end. That my only criticism of the movie.

If you like and appreciate a good drama that offers a realistic portrayal of how's one actions and vulnerability in character can change a life into a bleak future, then this is one I would recommend. It is psychological thriller, which maybe not everyone cup of tea. Notes on a Scandal is worth watching for the subject matter it tackled and learn something from the movie.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A woman scorned, 18 Feb 2008
By 
Kona (Emerald City) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Lonely high school teacher Barbara Covett's (Judi Dench) only confidant is her diary, in which she records her intimate thoughts and frequent delusions of happiness. Young Sheba (Cate Blanchett) joins the faculty and Barbara's fascination with her soon turns to obsessionion. When she discovers Sheba's affair with a student, Barbara agrees to keep the secret, but her unreasonable demands of Sheba's time and loyalty lead to disaster.

What a movie! It is absolutely wonderful. Both Dench and Blanchett were justly nominated for Academy Awards for their performances, and I couldn't take my eyes off of them. Dench plays a really sick, manipulating woman who does scary things, and yet has such a pathetic life one can't help but feel sorry for her. Blanchett has never looked more beautiful; she plays a complex woman with a seemingly happy family life who still feels unfulfilled, and looks for happiness from a young boy.

This film is well-written, insightfully directed, and the acting could not be better. Heartily recommended to those who enjoy emotional character studies.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Savage pain brilliantly portrayed, 24 April 2007
By 
This review is from: Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
The film follows the relationship between a beautiful, fey art teacher, brilliantly played by Blanchett and an older, lonely spinster who teaches in the same school, played with all the building sinister accuracy of Lady Macbeth, by Dench.

Initially the friendship between the two women seems mutually supportive: Dench providing Blanchett with support and advice in handling her class; Blanchett providing Dench with friendship and an entre into her happy, wealthy, loving family.

When Dench discovers Blanchett has fallen for one of her pupils, the relationship changes. Dench allows herself to see Blanchett as more than just a beautiful innocent to be enjoyed and admired. This becomes a story of love and obsession, and the difference between the two.

Absolutely storming performances from Dench and Blanchett keep you transfixed throughout; the film's grand Shakespearean themes of love, desire, jealously and loss are transmitted through understated performances form both the central characters and the all supporting cast.

it is tautly directed, and superbly underpinned by the Philip Glass score.

This has to be one of the best films of the decade, unfairly overlooked in the awards, despite its many nominations. Brilliant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slow-burning drama with a cast to die for, 27 Feb 2008
By 
This review is from: Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
No-one needs convincing these days that Judi Dench is a great actress, or for that matter Cate Blanchett, so for any director getting the two of them together in what is essentially a two-hander character piece must be a dream come true.

The `notes` of the title are the diary entry of Barbara, an aging spinster occupying the role of the feared ball-busting teacher at an urban high school. Barbara becomes fascinated by the newest art teacher at school, the airy fairy Sheba Hart, a woman hopelessly out of her depth who the older woman has to "rescue". Barbara sets out on a deliberate campaign to bring Sheba completely into her life regardless of how much this may disrupt her new friend's home life. The `scandal` in the title is Barbara's discovery that Sheba's head has been turned by a 15 year old pupil whom she has slept with.

One of the most fascinating things in the film is just how pathetic in her own manner each woman is. Barbara's corrosive pen, acting as narrator to the tale, highlights what a harpy she is while Sheba's moral weakness in sleeping with a child behind her husband's back and lack of real remorse when initially discovered marks her as a bad 'un. But in fairness you feel for Barbara as well because she is the very epitome of loneliness, an embittered old shrew with a cat who just wants her arm rubbed. You can't help but feel for her when events conspire to make her already palpable solitude even more pronounced. Similarly you can understand how Sheba would feel trapped in her marriage to an older husband (Bill Nighy, excellent as usual) with two difficult children, and be excited by youthful attention. Notes on Scandal never expects you to excuse either of these women but it makes them so well fleshed out that you can understand them to some extent. There's not a poorly written or delivered line in the entire 90 minutes and you imagine it could have worked beautifully as a book (the source), a play or a film.

As good a film as any that I've watched recently, Notes on a Scandal is a perfectly put together little treasure. The denouement with Barbara at her favourite bench is brilliantly written and you watch in rapt fascination the way you would watch a spider entrap a fly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Devious, 30 April 2009
This review is from: Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
This drama concerning a lonely old spinster (Dench) and her unrequited love for a handsome and thoroughly modern Art teacher (Blanchett) is very watchable if a little sensational. As a teacher myself, I have seen a colleague put himself in the same unenviable position as the weak and feckless Blanchett; the relationship between teacher and pupil is presented as being typically tempestuous here when in real life it would just be grubby and seedy - well I suppose it is a film after all.

The cast are all great as you'd expect, and the story rattles along, however the film ends in a way as to leave too many unanswered questions, and its tacit approval of forbidden love just a little uncomfortable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding performances, 22 Nov 2007
By 
Bluebell (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I haven't read the book so can't say how true the film is to the original. I found it a generally sensitive film exploring difficult issues. I might have thought the pupil-teacher relationship a bit far-fetched if there's hadn't been a similar case in the last year. All the actors were very good in their roles, but one has to single out Judy Dench, who was superb in the way she managed to portray an awkward, dowdy spinster and convey a range of emotions by small changes in her facial expression and body language.
Well worth watching.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, great film, 29 Dec 2007
By 
Brida "izumi" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
NOTES ON A SCANDAL is the film adaptation of the book, by the same name, written by Zoe Heller. I loved the book version, but was aware that adaptations to film can sometimes leave you feeling let down. However, in this case, I need not have worried.

The story is about a teacher, Barbara, who is near to retirement age. When a new young art teacher, Sheba, arrives at the school, Barbara feels that they will be friends. Barbara feels drawn to the young woman and Sheba's open way with people soon means that they become acquaintances.
But things change when Sheba begins an affair with one of her students. Barbara discovers their relationship - and even though she feels betrayed by Sheba, she decides not to tell anyone about the affair, so long as Sheba promises to finish the relationship.
Bound by this secret that they now share, their friendship soon begins to change. For when someone knows your secret, they possess a certain power over you.

The film adaptation fantastically manages to recreate the suspense and the tension that begins to grow between these two very different women. Judi Dench, as always, is absolutely amazing - her portrayal of Barbara as an old, clingy and slightly disturbed woman is brilliant. Cate Blanchett puts in an equally good performance, slowly unravelling as she learns that Barbara's attention and friendship hides something more sinister witin her personality.
Personally, what I also love about this film - and the book - is that Heller never really explains why Barbara is the way she is. There are no 'excuses' or justifications; this helps to make the character seem all the more disturbing, as she could be someone you bump into in your normal life.
This is a great film. But I would also recommend checking out the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Covett Covets, 1 July 2007
By 
MICHAEL ACUNA (Southern California United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) is empty both psychically and emotionally and she craves filling. She doesn't get filled by her job as a teacher where she is respected and feared yet hated and she has no family or love life to speak of. The she spies a new art teacher, Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett): new to teaching and probably unfit to deal with the very specific needs of rowdy teenage boys and girls. Barbara decides then and there that Sheba would make a good friend and confidant: in other words someone to fill the gaping void that she calls her life.

But Sheba is herself unfulfilled and needy with a conflicted marriage to an older man, Richard (Bill Nighy), a Down's Syndrome son and a troubled teenage daughter on the verge of womanhood with whom Sheba has little connection.

Both Sheba and Barbara are prime candidates for something different. Sheba turns to a randy fifteen year old student and Barbara turns her attentions to Sheba.

Writer Patrick Marber ("Closer"), adapting a ZoŽ Heller novel, has set up a scenario in which Barbara is the hunter and Sheba is the prey and what makes this situation particularly interesting is that Barbara's intention are not wholly, if at all, homosexual in intention. And when Barbara learns of Sheba's ill-conceived, basically stupid "affair" with an underage student, she uses it to control Sheba: "I have no intention of revealing this affair" she tells Sheba..."I just want to help you." And so the hunter snags her prey...or so she thinks.

Though Sheba's motivations are murky, Barbara's are not: she wants to control, ensnare and covet Sheba and Dench's performance is spot on: she's full of rage, she's smart, she's conniving and she is a lot crazy.

"Notes on a Scandal" is good melodrama performed to the hilt by two of our finest actresses and written and directed with wit and perception. If it doesn't always make logical sense or sometimes lacks appropriate, psychologically true motivation does not detract from the often exciting film that thrillingly plays out on the movie screen.
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Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007]
Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007] by Richard Eyre (DVD - 2007)
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