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Cinema Junkie by Beth Accomando

Notes on a Scandal

Notes 1

Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench star in Notes on a Scandal

Notes on a Scandal (opening January 5 at Landmarks Hillcrest Cinemas) serves up the best performances by any actresses from last year. Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett go for the jugular in this stinging adaptation of Zo Hellers novel.


Notes on a Scandal begins simply enough with the arrival of a new teacher at a less than stellar state-run London school. Sheba (Cate Blanchett) is a lovely young art teacher who seems a bit too delicate for her surroundings. In contrast to Sheba is Barbara (Judi Dench), a self-described battleaxe who is something of a fixture at the school after being there for some three decades. Barbara is by no means a warm and friendly sort. She keeps to herself and observes her colleagues with the most gleeful venom. She hones in on Sheba and assesses her with scathing accuracy as a woman earnestly trying to fit in but unable to shake her air of superiority. In these early stages, Barbara is not sure if Sheba will shatter and break into a thousand pieces or prove more durable.

When a fight breaks out in Shebas classroom, Barbara comes in to discipline and reign in the wild youths. Sheba is grateful and invites Barbara to lunch at her home. This sends the lonely Barbara into a giddy frenzy as she tries to fix herself up without calling attention to the effort. So begins one of the strangest female relationships ever recorded on film. Barbara latches onto to Sheba and sees in her some kind of perfect partner or companion, someone to grow old with. Sheba doesnt particularly like Barbara but she grows dependent on her, especially after Sheba engages in an affair with an under-aged student and needs Barbara to help her keep the secret.

Denise A. Burtyk
January 30, 2007 at 09:47 PM
I saw the movie, Notes on a Scandal, advertised on TV several times and it caught my interest. From the glimpse I saw, I was under the impression it was going to be a movie which would not only be about maybe some sort of relationship deception but also at the same time a thriller. With that in mind I ventured out to see for myself what all the hype over the movie was. Was I ever put through a horrifying, traumatic, nauseating, repulsive and disgusted shock. So much that after about the first 30 minutes of viewing, I grabbed my belongings and left as quickly as I could, feeling overwhelmed with tears in disbelief. I was in totally shocked after all the news broadcastings, rag magazines and talk shows had played up the most recent real-life teenage child molestation cases with teachers which totally shocked the nation, that Hollywood would have the audacity to make a movie protraying this criminally indecent seduction of a minor. And then to have a peer hiding and protecting the teacher and having casual conversation about her behavior like it was nothing. What were the producers in Hollywood thinking. I have a 15 year old nephew in which he is not even fully developed mentally or physically. I see him running around his yard with his friends playing football, basketball and going into his house to the computers and movies. I can't even fatham or picture anyone seducing him in anyway. If I did witness a seductive ludicrous act by any adult to my nephew, they would be putting me in jail for murder. I would defend that child to my death. If you saw a child the age of 15 or maybe younger being sexually attacked on a sidewalk, wouldn't your first instict be to rescue that child. But you're saying an adult teacher who takes a student into the bushes should be condoned. What is this world coming to. It's nothing but sexual perversion everywhere. No wonder there are so many children being abducted, raped, molested and murdered. I blame it not only on Hollywood but on Television networks. There are no morals anymore. Indecency it seems, is the norm. Why Hollywood would even think to promote this movie for any kind of award or recognition is demoralizing to humanity. How could Cate Blanchett or Judi Dench be even remotely proud of their acting portrayal of the characters in this movie. I will never know or accept this. They should be remorsely ashamed and embarrassed by their irresponsible decision to take participation in this act of demoralization on a minor. This visual depiction of a highly sensitive sexual nature is no better than making kiddy porn. God save us all. -----

Redmond Dawson
February 01, 2007 at 06:37 AM
Denise, your comments bely not only a complete lack of cultural awareness, but an acute ignorance of the film, which, given you chose to watch only 30 minutes, is hardly surprising. If it weren't for the fact that this film deserves such high praise I would not have even bothered responding to your comment. Alas, such mindless, conservative knee-jerk response are all too predictable in 'this day and age'. If you had stayed in the cinema, rather than fleeing to engage your 'offended viewer' persona, you would have witnessed a film that not only critiques the very sexualisation of a minor, but depicts it as a wholly destructive act, an act that is the product of indulgent middle class desires and one concealed by an obsessive and psychologically disturbed mind. To reduce such representations to the level of 'kiddy porn' as you do is not only laughable but more offensive and irresponsible than most of what Hollywood and those TV networks (that you so carelessly deride) produce. You may well ask God to save us all, but alas with your ignorance, I fear you may be already beyond help.


Denise A. Burtyk
May 29, 2007 at 04:54 AM
Redmond, I completely forgive you for the hostile bashing. As you misinterpeted, I chose to walk out of the cinema after 30 minutes because I did not want to see this subject matter. I was perfectly aware after the first 20 minutes the movie was about a disturbed individual who victimizes a juvenile. That self knowledge has nothing to do with a conservative knee-jerk attitude (as you state) nor a lack of cultural awareness. I live in a City where these horrific crimes towards children as young as 2 years old, happen almost weekly. It is a horrific real-world reality that the citizens of my City have to face repeatedly. So don't even think to analyze me by stating that I am even remotely ignorant on this subject matter. You couldn't even be more further than the truth. To state I am beyond help regarding this highly sensitive issue. Now come on. Where are you coming from with such a condescending, derogatory, and further than the truth uncompassiate allegation. I, frankly state, in my original comments how I am completely adamantly outraged by this real-life act of sexual child seduction. My statement was made clear enough for the most intellegent individuals of our society to see I wrote in complete defense of the victimized children. As stated, my City has a very high level of crime, as so many others do now. Everyone in their day-to-day routines, finds ways to have coping outlets. The outlet I choose, is to go to the movies. It calms me down, let's me slip into another world for a few hours, laugh and cry and leave me with a new perspective about everyday life. I chose for me, the wrong movie. I chose to say NO to Hollywood that day. Why, because the film topic was exactly a real incident which happened in my City that week. I'm not a glutten for punishment, it was sanity which led me out of the theatre back to the real-world. I work in a City where I help build citizens lives up with self-esteem, confidence and belief in themselves. I listen, comprehend and I'm fluent in Oxford English. Am I culturally aware you ask? Does traveling and living in all US States but thirteen, along with living in Europe count? Could I be more deversified? What about you?