Sunday, February 04, 2007
Notes On A Scandal - review
Notes On A Scandal (15)
Dir. Richard Eyre
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
I’ve seen some scary stuff on film in my time and I imagine after reading the book that ‘Hannibal Rising’ stands a decent chance of raising a chill or two (review next week), but nothing could have prepared me for seeing Judi Dench plumb what one review calls ‘the lower recesses of unpleasantness’… It’s truly the stuff of nightmares and here’s the thing – it’s probably living somewhere near you, lurking somewhere you’d never imagine… That’s right, Notes On A Scandal is blessed with one of cinema’s all time most chilling characters in aging battleaxe teacher Barbara Covett – brought to life with a vivid sense of believability by Judi Dench.
So it is that inner city art teacher Sheba (a crackingly fey turn from the talented Cate Blanchett) makes the mistake of getting involved with one of her 15-year-old students (the strapping young Andrew Simpson). What complicates her illicit affair is that she is spotted in a most inappropriate act with the pupil by Covett who rather than blow the whistle on her colleague, instead uses the knowledge to her own ends. This is because the dumpy formidable spinster has taken rather a shine to the younger teacher and wants her for herself…
What then unfolds is an unhinged ethical and moral drama, played out with powerful performances from the two lead women, ably supported by Bill Nighy as Blanchett’s older husband. Dench takes the gloves offs and gives her pearl set villainess a brilliant ‘only just holding it together’ air of menace whilst Blanchett emanates palpable anxiety. Notes On A Scandal (based on Zoë Heller's best-selling novel) is a superbly crafted psychological game of cat and mouse. The power struggle between the two women is an oestrogen overdose that keeps you hooked with the director’s malignant glee. It’s a wild ride through tricky territory and a devastating insight into how loneliness can twist the mind. What’s best is that you never quite know where it’s all going either – the ending having been changed from the book.
If you’re looking for a film that will give you masses to discuss, raise the hairs on the back of you neck and demonstrate even to action junkies that sometimes you don’t need guns and car chases to be excited (Hot Fuzz in 2 weeks will have all that) – I’d strongly recommend that you take some Notes On A Scandal.
Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):
Action ööö – pacy considering the muted subject matter
Laughs ööö – Dench's descriptions of everyone below her is amusing
Horror öööö – psychologically tense and then some
Babes ööö – Blanchett is very fanciable
Overall öööö (see me after class!!)
Darkmatters: H O M E
Posted by Matt Adcock at 10:55 pm