Reviewed Jun 06, 2012
Steven Savona’s review:
A psychological thriller about obsession, secrecy, betrayal and corruption. Judi Dench plays Barbara Covett, a teacher who lives a dull and lonesome life. She yearns for a sense of connection in the world, and finds it in the form of new art teacher Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett). When Barbara discovers that Sheba is having an affair with a 15 year-old student, she begins to play mind games with her, and their relationship goes through a series of ups and downs. Judi Dench's performance is just outstanding. Barbara looks like the innocent old lady from down the street, but at her core, she's a conniving, self-centred woman. Nonetheless, most people should be able to find traits within themself that Barbara also possesses. I am very curious about Cate Blanchett's character. I don't know whether to respect her or not throughout the film. When she seems like she is being nice, it never looks like she truly wants to be nice. She does her best to raise a family, which includes a son who has Down syndrome, but I lost respect for her a few times during the film. You will too, I assure it. The chemistry between Dench and Blanchett is astounding. When they argue, you can feel their emotions. One last thing that I found intriguing. Before I watched the movie, I knew there would be a teacher-student affair. I expected myself to sit through the affair scenes and 'feel lucky' for the student (very childish, I know). However, when I watched those scenes, I felt so awkward. It was like I was right there witnessing the intimacy, like I had been sworn to secrecy about the matter. This effect was achieved by the unique characterisation of the student (Andrew Simpson). He is in fact the one who initiates the affair, his obsession with Sheba takes over his life and he begins to stalk her. Sheba tries to ignore him at first, but she ultimately succumbs to his youthful charm. She tells Barbara that her life was going so well, so much so that she 'deserved' to be immoral. To conclude, 'Notes on a Scandal' is a powerfully raw film, that would have been even better if it wasn't so rushed. Definitely worth a watch.