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29 of 31 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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14 of 15 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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29 of 31 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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4 of 4 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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14 of 15 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
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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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
4.0 out of 5 stars strangely compelling, 22 Dec. 2012
By 
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
This is quite a powder keg of a film, boasting a number of superb performances, an intense score, and a sense of the narrative being handled with consummate skill. It is also cinematically intense, with restless, mobile camerawork that effectively reflects the characters' turmoil. The scandal referred to in the title is the relationship between Cate Blanchett's art teacher and a 15-year-old pupil - the presentation of this is surprisingly non-judgmental in a way that runs somewhat counter to the prevailing thinking on the subject. For instance, it is not suggested at any point that it has been harmful to the boy, and one suspects that he may even have gained from the experience and certainly found it exciting. The same cannot be said for the woman, of course, whose life is destroyed. I was surprised to see it shown in such an evenhanded way. However it is difficult to see why Sheba would have been lured into the affair in the first place, given what a nice life she had, and the risks involved. The loneliness that she is meant to feel seems contrived - I know you cannot judge these things from the outside, but at the very least she was married to Bill Nighy who seemed very sensitive and loving, and her son, who had Down's Syndrome, would be, you imagine, quite absorbing of her emotions. A lot is placed on a fraught relationship with her mother but this is very sketchy indeed. The relationship with Barbara (Judi Dench) is more convincing and more developed in terms of screen time, however here too there is a certain sleight-of-hand at some points. Even a naive, vulnerable woman would have been more on her guard against Barbara, surely, so that her initial invitation to lunch feels rather forced. I just don't think she would have invited her like that. Although both actresses are superb, the thriller genre requires more cracks to be covered over to keep the whole thing on course, and it goes downhill, especially where things get confrontational between the women - it really begins to feel quite tasteless towards the end. All credit goes to Judi Dench for taking on the role, and daring to lay bare a character who is not going to get much audience sympathy, and doing it without flinching. Her betrayal scene is played with devastating cool that gives a delicious pleasure as a piece of acting, but this is precisely the problem; it does not have a very noble soul by this point ... Had the more poetic relationship with the boy panned out differently, and the attentions of Barbara been less predatory, the film could have been a much more edifying experience with a sense of the human soul and its yearning, rather than ended up as a pot-boiler. I'm sure it would have been possible to combine these two illicit obsessions in the same film to more moving effect, but it would probably have had to jettison its thriller credentials.
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One word: Brilliant., 27 Jun. 2011
By 
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This review is from: Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
This film is truly one of the best I have ever seen. Judi Dench gives an absolutely mesmerizing performance as Barbara Covett, a woman consumed by loneliness. We see her start an innocent friendship which slowly but surely descends into obsession and betrayal, and as the mask begins to slip, Dench's performance gets darker and darker, exposing the character's delusion and jealous nature. How Dame Dench lost out on an Oscar, I will never know. It's the best she's ever been. Cate Blanchett gives an altogether different, but similarly brilliant performance as art teacher Sheba Hart, who doesn't know what she's letting herself in for when she confesses her affair with a pupil to Dench's character. Both women play off each other amazingly, and their tangled web of secrets provide the basis for an excellent dramatic thriller. The plot may not sound like much when you read it, but the performances give the film so much depth and complexity that it becomes so much more than just "teacher has affair with pupil". This isn't even the kind of film I'd normally watch, but I'm glad I gave it a try as it's become one of my favourites. Dench's performance is delicious....VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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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 500 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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Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007]
Notes On A Scandal [DVD] [2007] by Richard Eyre (DVD - 2007)
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