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Notes on a Scandal

286 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Academy Award(r) winners Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett give wickedly entertaining, Oscar-nominated performances * ? one as a woman consumed by her colleague's guilty secret, the other, a victim to her own dark obsessions ? in this sexy, stylish thriller. Dench mesmerizes as Barbara Covett, a teacher who rules over her classroom with an iron fist, yet leads a desperate, solitary life outside it. That is, until she meets radiant new art teacher Sheba Hart (Blanchett). Although at first overjoyed with her newfound kindred spirit, when Barbara discovers that Sheba is having an affair with a teenage student, her jealously and rage spiral out of control.

Gold stars to all for this taut psychological thriller based on Zoe Heller's novel that that gets more insidiously twisted as it unfolds. Oscar-nominated for her chilling performance, Dame Judi Dench gives a master class as schoolteacher Barbara Covett, a frumpy, friendless, and flinty spinster who lives with her cat. A formidable presence, Barbara is standoffish with colleagues and not one for students to trifle with (not that they'd dare). Cate Blanchett, also an Oscar nominee and winner of several critics society awards for her impassioned performance, costars as Sheba Hart, the new, overwhelmed art teacher who first becomes enthrall to Barbara after she steps in to help Sheba discipline unruly students. Barbara cultivates a friendship, and insinuates herself into Sheba's chaotic life, which includes her older husband (Bill Nighy), teenage daughter, and a son with Down's syndrome. Then, Barbara catches the reckless Sheba in a compromising position with a 15-year-old student (Andrew Simpson). Seizing her opportunity, the calculating Barbara does not turn her in. Rather, she wants to "help" her. "She's the one I've been waiting for," she writes in the journals she meticulously keeps, and which provide, in voiceover, her corrosive commentary. This all sounds very Fatal Attraction, but no boiling rabbits, please; we're British. Philip Glass's Oscar-nominated score accentuates the growing menace. Though there is little in these characters to admire, (one would think GLAAD would have something to say about the predatory turn Barbara's character takes), Notes on a Scandal is a compelling tour-de-force for its Grade-A cast. --Donald Liebenson

Notes on a Scandal Extras

Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench on their characters in the film

Beyond Notes on a Scandal

Book to Movie Adaptations

More Cate Blanchett Films

What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal: A Novel

Stills from Notes on a Scandal

Special Features

  • Widescreen Feature
  • Commentary by director Richard Eyre
  • Notes on A Scandal: The Story of Two Obsessions
  • Notes on A Scandal: Behind The Scenes
  • In Character with Cate Blanchett
  • Webisodes:
  • Judi and Cate: Behind The Scandal
  • The Screenplay
  • Judi Dench
  • Cate Blanchett
  • A Conversation with Cate Blanchett and Bill Nighy
  • Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench, Andrew Simpson, Tom Georgeson, Michael Maloney
  • Directors: Richard Eyre
  • Writers: Patrick Marber, Zoe Heller
  • Producers: Redmond Morris, Robert Fox, Scott Rudin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen, Closed-captioned
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Fox Searchlight
  • DVD Release Date: April 17, 2007
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (286 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,068 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Notes on a Scandal" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 66 people found the following review helpful By K. Hinton VINE VOICE on April 20, 2007
Format: DVD
Notes on a Scandal is a gripping, captivating story of two lonely women and the ragged way they fall in and out of love. Sheba, a young art teacher, who falls into a torrid affair with a 15-year-old student, ostensibly because of the disappointment and difficulties in her family life. Then Barbara, an older history teacher, who takes Sheba under her wing--or so she thinks--and is the first to know her secret. The way this story unravels is enthralling and hard to watch, but at the same time I couldn't take my eyes away from the screen. I found myself sympathizing with Sheba, though I knew her actions were wrong, because I could understand the ache of loneliness one must feel when you begin to wonder if you've made the wrong choices in your life. Similarly, though the seemingly benevolent Barbara eventually turns out to have a cruel streak, I found myself empathizing for her lack of companionship and the fact that she seemed so completely alone. Notes on a Scandal is a story about loneliness, the banality of cruelty, and the harsh reality of living and accepting the choices you've made. It's an excellent film and kept me entertained from start to finish.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By J. Marren VINE VOICE on April 20, 2007
Format: DVD
This grim drama of sexual manipulation is a story where almost everyone is a victim. Judi Dench (Barbara) plays the chilling role of the lonely spinster teacher who befriends young women with the goal of possessing them. Cate Blanchett (Sheba) is a dreamy, artistic young mother, who, after years of caring for a Down's Syndrome son, goes back to work as an art teacher at a rough London school. Barbara trains her sights on Sheba as she struggles with the chaos in the school and helps her out, but then discovers a secret to hold over her.

Judi Dench manages to portray a woman who is despicable and pitiable at the same time, while Blanchett draws on our sympathy despite unforgivable transgressions. The themes are very disturbing, and there's no happy ending--Barbara moves on while the other characters pick up the pieces. Blanchett's young art student may be the only one to emerge unscathed--but I won't say more. This film is most definitely for adults only, and some will be offended by the subject matter. But Dench gives a magnificent performance, as always.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Bookphile VINE VOICE on December 23, 2007
Format: DVD
This is yet another example of fine British cinema. What makes it so singular for an American like me is this is a movie that centers around two women, where said two women have most of the screen time, and where the male characters are secondary. It proves in a most masterful way that movies about women can be complex, interesting, and every bit as compelling as movies that center around male characters. And with two such stellar actresses as Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, how could the moviegoer go wrong?

This movie is a really wonderful and intricate character study. Though Blanchett's character sounds like she should be the villain, having violated one of the most sacred trusts the public places in its schools, Dench's character is no less menacing. What is truly astonishing about this film is how Blanchett's character comes out as more sympathetic in the end. What Sheba does is abhorrent but it is also horrifying to watch how Barbara tries her best to catch Sheba in her net. Though Sheba's actions are morally repugnant, she is not without a conscience and she knows that what she has done is wrong and that it will tear her family, her school, and her young lover's life apart. Barbara, on the other hand, is a textbook sociopath. Though initially enraged over discovering Sheba's affair, she decides to use it to her advantage so that she can back Sheba into a corner. Barbara doesn't care about the student and she doesn't really care about Sheba either. All she cares about is winning her prize. She is a ruthless predator.

Blanchett is fantastic as Sheba. She makes the character three dimensional so that the viewer can understand what has driven her to commit such a heinous act, though her reasons for it do not in any way excuse her actions.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on April 20, 2007
Format: DVD
For all it is an entry into the "girlfriend/ temp/ babysitter/ boyfriend/ roommate/ etc. from hell" films of the late 80s and early 90s (such as FATAL ATTRACTION, THE TEMP, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, FEAR), NOTES ON A SCANDAL is still a terrific and excitingly paced melodrama showing two splendid actresses--Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett--at their absolute best. Dench is a fire-breathing older woman teaching history in a London public school who has a hidden history of stalking and erotomania; Blanchett is the new art teacher, unable to handle a classroom, escaping from her incredible family demands (incluiding a son with Down's syndrome) who befriends Dench and starts having an affair with a manipulative 15 year-old student. When Dench develops an obsession with Blanchett, and discovers the affair, the sparks really fly, and the movie builds at an even more breathtaking pace. There's not much point to the film (other than that all single people in the film seem determine to wreck Blanchett's marriage), but who cares when you can see two actresses as fine as Dench and Blanchett work so splendidly. Dench has a role here perfectly within her range as the rebarbarative and covetous Barbara Covett; Blanchett (as always) seems like you've never seen her before, this time as Bathsheba Hart, Covett's beautiful prey. The overdramatic score by Philip Glass is less obstrusive than it might have been given the tremendous scale of these two actresses' performances.
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