Author Topic: Notes on a Scandal  (Read 4636 times)

Najemikon

  • Guest
Notes on a Scandal
« on: November 04, 2007, 03:57:09 AM »
Notes on a Scandal
4 out of 5

I felt compelled to highlight this film. You may read the overview or even the reviews and feel that although it may be worthy of all the praise, it doesn't really appeal. A short (87 minutes) British drama about a school teacher's affair with a pupil doesn't leap out as essential viewing, but it really is.

This film is worth seeing for several reasons. The note perfect acting from the whole cast is one, the sublime writing another, but I enjoyed it almost as a thriller. That's the last thing I thought I'd be describing it as, but Judi Dench portrays such a potent menacing threat as Barbara it certainly comes very close. And like the best villains, Barbara doesn't know herself.

That's what is so good about the writing; the plot is often advanced by what is not said, rather than by what is. A great deal of the tone is provided by Barbara and her diary (the titular "Notes"), written in beautifully descriptive language, but unusually for narration, it isn't the voice of the film. Her problems are very clear to the viewer. Also other angles are emphasised by overheard comments from supporting characters who aren't always on screen.

It's a very adult film. Concise, to the point, with clear distinct lines and tackling moral issues head on without any sugar coating. A masterclass in screen acting, I couldn't recommend it as an enjoyable story because it's a grim situation, but it's engrossing. And Judi Dench is scary!

lyonsden5

  • Guest
Re: Notes on a Scandal
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2007, 01:37:46 PM »
Thanks Jon. Sounds interesting

richierich

  • Guest
Re: Notes on a Scandal
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2007, 07:24:57 PM »
Thanks for this Jon, I've got it down for my reverse marathon so looking forward to viewing it even more now  :thumbup:

Offline Kathy

  • Super Heavy Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 3600
  • Country: us
    • View Profile
Re: Notes on a Scandal
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2007, 11:12:50 PM »
Thank you Jon. I've added it to my wish list!

Najemikon

  • Guest
Re: Notes on a Scandal
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2007, 01:04:34 AM »
Kathy, you do realise it is a British film?  :hysterical:

Seriously I'm glad to see such interest from across the pond. Actually maybe one of you nice American types can clear something up for me that is referenced in a round about fashion in the film. In just about every U.S. film or TV show set in a school or college classroom, they show the class leaving as soon as the bell sounds. Even if the teacher is mid sentence, they just get up and go. The teacher doesn't bat an eyelid and just yells over them to mention homework or the next class.

Is that how it is in American schools? I find it odd because it would never happen when I was at school here. If I just stood up and walked out I would have been liable to find a board rubber bouncing off the back of my head! The teacher dictated when you left, not the bell. I'm not saying that the average teacher was an ogre who wouldn't let you have a break, but just that they were allowed to at least finish speaking!

The reason I mention it here, is that in Notes on a Scandal, there is a brief moment when Barbara (Judi Dench) is teaching, the bell sounds and the class immediately stands despite her being in mid-sentence. She glares and they all pause until she motions to allow them to leave.

I thought it worth talking about because it is a small cultural difference which you may have taken for granted. Perhaps even misled you about Barbara, but her actions are simply old habits and don't suggest anything other than annoyance at a breakdown in standards. Maybe this is becoming the norm now in British classrooms.

Offline Kathy

  • Super Heavy Poster
  • ******
  • Posts: 3600
  • Country: us
    • View Profile
Re: Notes on a Scandal
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2007, 01:28:49 AM »
Kathy, you do realise it is a British film?  :hysterical:

:yucky:

just kidding

As far as leaving as soon as the bell rang...who remembers that long ago?!?

RossRoy

  • Guest
Re: Notes on a Scandal
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2007, 02:24:51 AM »
I remember when I was in school, 1984-1996 (elementary to high school), we would stay put until the teacher gave the ok. In college, it was like in the movies, everybody getting up with the teacher yelling to be heard above the bell and rustling.

My sister, 2 years younger, had teachers keeping control in elementary, but like in the movies for high school and college.

So I guess it's an indication of the level of respect the teacher get these days. When a teacher gets suspended (3 weeks) for yelling after a student that was standing up on his desk?? Yeah, great schooling, and I can't wait to see these kids run the country and our businesses.  ::)

lyonsden5

  • Guest
Re: Notes on a Scandal
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2007, 02:34:37 AM »
In general our public education system has become nothing more than a babysitting service. Kids have no respect for teachers and the teachers hands are tied to do anything about it.

Of course there are exceptions (my kids included ;) ) but the system is designed to have the kids pass a standardize test with the best score they can. How the schools do on these tests somewhat determines how much funding they get.

And my youngest is in college getting a teaching degree  :-\

richierich

  • Guest
Re: Notes on a Scandal
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2007, 09:42:46 PM »
Wow  :tv:

Just viewed this. Uncomfortable in places, but totally compelling viewing, Dench just gets better as she gets older and Cate never fails to impress.
An absolute must see film

Najemikon

  • Guest
Re: Notes on a Scandal
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2007, 10:28:17 PM »
It rather demands the attention, doesn't it? I forgot to mention Bill Nighy in my original post. His role was relatively simple as the spurned husband, but he gave it such power with few lines.

Touti

  • Guest
Re: Notes on a Scandal
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2009, 12:49:59 AM »
I'm glad you posted this review Jon, I'm getting ready to watch this movie and I'll be more than happy to tell you later where and why you're wrong  :tease:

Najemikon

  • Guest
Re: Notes on a Scandal
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2009, 02:25:41 AM »
Ooh, dipping ones toe in British waters again? It can only end horribly! :devil:

Touti

  • Guest
Re: Notes on a Scandal
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2009, 02:59:45 AM »
Ooh, dipping ones toe in British waters again? It can only end horribly! :devil:

It wasn't much of a risk this time because this is not one of those brit's movies from the 70's...........you people have learnt over the years  :P

An absolutely wonderful movie.  I think most of you know how much I like Cate Blanchett and I have yet to find a movie in which she doesn't perform well.  In this movie however, although she is again extremely good, I have to to say that she's being outperformed by Judi Dench's absolutely wonderful play.

My only disapointment is that I wish the movie was longer.  Although I like the fact that, as Jon mentioned, it goes straight to the point, Dench's character only becomes a real bitch 25 minutes before the end but to me that's where she's at her best in that movie so I wished I had been given more of it.

I do however have a question about a scene where Blanchett's character does something I don't understand.
(click to show/hide)

If I'm totally honest I also have to say that I found one thing in the knitting of the story that doesn't "compute" for me.  I find it very unlikely that, in real life, Sheba wouldn't have known who told about her affair with the boy, it happens right after scene where Barbara is angered because Sheba doesn't stay with her when she needs her, most people would at least have doubts.

Offline Dragonfire

  • Mega Heavy Poster
  • *******
  • Posts: 6911
    • View Profile
    • Dragonfire88 Pbwiki
Re: Notes on a Scandal
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2009, 03:00:29 AM »
I saw this one sometime last year.  It was really good...disturbing, unhappy subject, but very well done.  Dench was amazing and her characters so subtly twisted.  You're right..she was scary.  And in denial about certain things relating to herself.

Touti

  • Guest
Re: Notes on a Scandal
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2009, 03:25:35 AM »
And in denial about certain things relating to herself.

That's not really how I see it.  People in denial of that will usually try to "put on a show" for themselves and others and try to live their lives in accordance to what is generally accepted as "normal".  Barbara isn't in denial but she comes from a time where these things aren't accepted and she probably believes that society still think it's wrong, which is not entirely wrong anyway because it's not yet completely accepted. 

(click to show/hide)

I believe Barbara's acts are driven by a bitterness which is the result of a life of loneliness and frustrations of "living in the dark".

« Last Edit: January 04, 2009, 03:30:12 AM by Eric »