|Notes on a Scandal|
Promotional movie poster
|Directed by||Richard Eyre|
|Produced by||Robert Fox|
|Screenplay by||Patrick Marber|
|Based on||Notes on a Scandal|
by Zoë Heller
|Music by||Philip Glass|
|Edited by||John Bloom|
Antonia Van Drimmelen
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Box office||$49.8 million|
Notes on a Scandal is a 2006 British psychological thriller-drama film directed by Richard Eyre and produced by Robert Fox and Scott Rudin. Adapted from the 2003 novel of the same name by Zoë Heller, the screenplay was written by Patrick Marber. The film stars Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett and centers on a lonely veteran teacher who uncovers a fellow teacher's illicit affair with an underage student.
Barbara Covett is a history teacher at a comprehensive school in London. A spinster nearing retirement, her only comfort is her diary. When a new art teacher, Sheba Hart, joins the staff, Barbara is immediately attracted to her. Sheba is married to the much older Richard, and is just re-entering the work force after devoting herself to her special needs son.
Barbara later witnesses Sheba in a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old student named Steven Connolly at a school Christmas concert celebration. When Barbara confronts her, she recounts all the details of her involvement with the boy, and Sheba asks her not to tell the school administration until after Christmas, as she wants to be with her family. Barbara claims she has no intention of reporting her, providing Sheba ends the relationship immediately. Sheba tells Steven that the affair is over. However, when she refuses to give in to Barbara's demands on her time, Barbara reveals the secret to a male teacher. He tells her that he is attracted to Sheba and asks her to act as an intermediary. After the affair becomes public, Barbara and Sheba both lose their jobs. The head teacher, Sandy Pabblem, suspects that Barbara knew about the affair and did not notify the authorities, and also learned that a former teacher at the school had taken out a restraining order against Barbara for stalking her and her fiance.
Sheba is thrown out of her home by her husband, and moves into Barbara's house. Sheba is unaware that Barbara is the reason she was found out, believing the affair became known because Steven confessed it to his mother. When Sheba finds Barbara's diary and learns it was Barbara who leaked the story of the affair, she confronts Barbara and strikes her in anger. A row ensues, and Sheba runs outside with Barbara's journal to a crowd of reporters and photographers. When she becomes hemmed in by them, Barbara rescues her.
Sheba's emotions spent, she quietly tells Barbara that she had initiated the friendship with her because she liked her and that they could have been friends. She leaves Barbara, placing the journal on the table, and returns to her family home. Richard and Sheba face one another silently for several moments, and then Richard allows her to enter. Sheba is subsequently sentenced to 10 months in prison.
Later, Barbara meets another younger woman who is reading a newspaper about the Sheba Hart affair. Barbara says she was acquainted with Sheba, but implies they hardly knew each other. Barbara introduces herself, invites the other woman to a concert, and the pair continue to talk.
The film opened to generally positive reviews, with Blanchett and Dench receiving critical acclaim for their performances, and receiving a Rotten Tomatoes "Certified Fresh" rating of 87%.The Guardian called the film a "delectable adaptation" with "tremendous acting from Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, with many blue-chip supporting contributions and a "screenwriting masterclass from Patrick Marber".The Times praised the film, saying: "Notes on a Scandal, is screenwriting at its vicious best... Richard Eyre directs the film like a chamber play. He leans on Philip Glass's ever-present and insistent music like a crutch. But his natural gift for framing scenes is terrifically assured. A potent and evil pleasure."
American publications also gave the film acclaim, with the Los Angeles Times describing the film as "Sexy, aspirational and post-politically correct, Notes on a Scandal could turn out to be the Fatal Attraction of the noughties."The Washington Post noted the "dark brilliance" and that it "offers what is possibly the only intelligent account of such a disaster ever constructed, with a point of view that is somewhat gimlet-eyed and offered with absolutely no sentimentality whatsoever." The reviewer also identified the film as a "study in the anthropology of British liberal-left middle-class life."Chicago Sun-Times film critic Richard Roeper heaped praise on the film: "Perhaps the most impressive acting duo in any film of 2006. Dench and Blanchett are magnificent. Notes on a Scandal is whip-smart, sharp and grown up."
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Awards
Online Film Critics Awards
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards