There’s nothing better than a taut, gripping drama, and it doesn’t get much better than Notes On A Scandal.
British actress Judi Dench stars as Barbara Covett, a hard-nosed school-teacher who takes a fancy to the beautiful, new art teacher Sheba Hart played by Cate Blanchett. When she discovers Sheba’s having an affair with a 15-year-old student, Barbara befriends her, promises not to report the scandal, but warns her to end the relationship right away.
Sheba’s grateful to Barbara for showing her the right direction, but she has no idea Barbara has deep-hidden motives. The thing about Barabara is, she’s lonely and she needs someone she can focus her emotions on, someone to whom she can be a confidante and vice versa.
Barbara has chosen Sheba to be that person, and for a while Sheba goes along. But when she suspects Barbara might be nursing sexual feelings for her, Sheba begins to withdraw. That’s when Barbara strikes. In one single blow, she ruins Sheba’s life forever.
The star of the film is without doubt Judi Dench, who plays Barbara as a bitter, caustic woman whose words are dripping with sarcasm. She plays down the lesbian undertones but creates this uncomfortable air of quiet desperation every time she’s in the presence of Sheba. And that’s really what makes this film so good.
Cate Blanchett plays Sheba as a radiantly beautiful woman who seems much too distracted herself to notice how she’s being manipulated.
The film’s real charm lies in the mood that it creates, a sort of ticking time bomb-like urgency because you know it’s all going to blow up and you can’t wait to see how and when…
Notes On A Scandal is like bitter chocolate. It’s dark, but sinfully delicious.