Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Saw Notes on a Scandal

from w
Last night we went to the movies to see Notes on a Scandal. What an engrossing film it was, but it was not about love, but really about obsession, crushes, manipulation and betrayal. Very Shakespearean. It was very realistic, though I haven’t exactly met anyone quite like ‘Barbara’ or ‘Sheba’. Peceli said it was a very good film, though I though he wouldn't like it.

Notes adapted from Peter Bradshaw Friday February 2, 2007 The Guardian shortened - a cut and paste job.

It's a psychological thriller about an ageing history teacher in a north London state school with a sinister, obsessional crush on a younger colleague. There is some tremendous acting from Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, with many blue-chip supporting contributions….

Dench plays spinsterish Barbara, a teacher nearing retirement, with the pinched, dyspeptic expression of someone determinedly swallowing down her disappointment with life. Her general disdain finds a focus in the person of a new art teacher called Sheba (Cate Blanchett) who excites Barbara's silent fascination.

Sheba has charm and Barbara, lonely and needy, finds herself being charmed, too. With pathetic schoolgirlish yearning, she cultivates a longing to be Sheba's new best friend and indeed something more than that. When she discovers a sensational secret in Sheba's sex life, Barbara has the means to blackmail her into a hideous parody of intimacy, while at the same time deluding herself that they really are great friends - a delusion that builds to a horrible, violent climax.

Notes on a Scandal is about something deeply unlovely in human nature rarely explored by poets, or novelists, or film-makers: the explosive combination of desire and social envy.

Sheba lives in a wonderfully grand house with her elegant, donnish older husband (Bill Nighy), together with a teenage daughter and a younger son who has Down's syndrome: a problem they manage with exemplary candour and calm.

There is an unreliable narrator and her diary entries and a lot of voiceover, especially at the beginning. when we need to be introduced to Barbara's haughty, plaintive personality. Her observations have a painful, neurosis-fuelled precision. When Barbara takes direct, destructive action, voiceover takes second place to a disposition of dramatic scenes and the pace really picks up.

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Blogger Penny said...

Hmm not sure I like the sound of it at all, head in the sand thats me. Interestingly I bought for $1 a second hand copy of Dorothy L Sayers Gaudy night, which I probably first read aged about 20 but am now finsing it fascinating reading, written and published in 1935 it is set in Oxford, and is an interesting story of intelligent but mostly celibate women and how they cope with a "poltergeist" in their midst, worth re reading.

1:39 AM  

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